A Hong Kong judge on Monday denied bail for the first person to be charged under the special territory’s new sweeping national security law.
Chief magistrate So Wai-tak denied bail for Tong Ying-kit, 23, citing the legislation which threatens life in prison for ill-defined crimes including secession, separatism, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.
Mr Tong was charged with acts of secession and participating in terrorist activities. The alleged crimes took place less than 24 hours after the implementation of the national security law, which was shrouded in secrecy until it came into force.
City leaders clarified at that point that that the protest slogan Mr Tong carried – “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” – would be in violation as it demonstrated subversion and separatism. The popular protest chant appears across Hong Kong on t-shirts, posters, and post-it notes.
A prosecutor said Mr Tong, who appeared in court in a wheelchair upon discharge from hospital where he was being treated for leg fractures after his arrest last week, was responsible for injuring at least three police officers.
Police previously said Mr Tong hit and injured officers last Wednesday during an illegal protest. A video circulating online showed a motorcyclist ramming into police on the street, later falling over and getting arrested.
Prosecutors have yet to clarify where Mr Tong will be tried, whether there will be a jury, and the maximum sentence he faces, his lawyer, Lawrence Lau Wai-chung told the South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong newspaper.
At least ten people have already been arrested for potential violations of the new national security law, which was last week imposed on the former British colony by the ruling Chinese Communist Party in Beijing.
Hundreds more were arrested by police during protests in defiance of the law.
Chinese leaders have said the law is necessary to restore order in Hong Kong, which has been roiled by pro-democracy protests since last year.
But protesters, residents, businessmen, lawyers and more fear the law will target crushing dissent and voices for democracy or independence in the city by paving the way for a non-transparent and politically-motivated crackdown.
The law also allows for secretive mainland Chinese security agencies to operate in Hong Kong for the first time, and for suspects to be extradited to China to face trial, where the courts have a 99.9 per cent conviction rate.
The Hong Kong court adjourned Monday and is expected to resume hearing Mr Tong’s case in October.