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Hong Kong court lets democracy activists walk free
February 7, 2018 | 11:24 AM
by Times TV
 
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Hong Kong: The highest court in Hong Kong on Tuesday unanimously decided to free three young leaders of the Chinese-ruled city's pro-democracy movement, including the public face of youth-led protests, Joshua Wong, in a stark reversal of an earlier ruling.

But despite the reversal of an earlier ruling, the activists were solemn on their exit.

Joshua Wong said, "According to the judgement handed down by the Court of Final Appeal, in the future if there are any similar actions, protesters will still receive imprisonment. So I will not, in any way, describe this as a win and do not see it as a reason to celebrate."

The unanimous decision was made by a five judge panel who warned against future acts of dissent and threatened stricter guidelines.



Twenty one-year old Wong and his co-accused, Nathan Law and Alex Chow, spent roughly two months in jail before they were granted bail last October.

Before that, a magistrate's court had ruled they should serve community service and a suspended sentence after they and others stormed a fenced-off area in front of government headquarters in September 2014, sparking a night-long standoff with police.

The moment was seen as a key trigger for the 'Umbrella Movement' that blocked major roads in the city for 79 days in a push for full democracy.

It presented Communist Party rulers in Beijing with one of their biggest challenges in decades and has seen Wong nominated by a dozen members of the United States Congress for this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

But the non-custodial sentence was challenged, eventually leading to the Court of Appeal imposing jail terms.

Besides the trio, dozens of other mostly young democracy activists have also been imprisoned. Some see it as a concerted attempt by authorities to curtail any momentum for the movement.

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