Joshua Wong Pleads Guilty Over 2019 Hong Kong Protest

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HONG KONG — Joshua Wong, the Hong Kong pro-democracy campaigner, pleaded guilty along with two other activists on Monday to unauthorized assembly charges over a 2019 protest and were immediately jailed, capping a month of arrests of activists, journalists and politicians in the city.

Mr. Wong, along with Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam, who were all members of the since-disbanded group Demosisto, was remanded by a court in the West Kowloon District and will be sentenced next week.

The three were accused of unauthorized assembly over a demonstration in June 2019, when thousands of people surrounded Police Headquarters and called for an investigation of use of force by officers.

They did not say why they had pleaded guilty rather than fight the charges. In a Facebook post on Sunday, Mr. Wong wrote that the decision had been made after examining the prosecution’s evidence and consulting with legal counsel.

Demosisto disbanded shortly after Beijing imposed a tough national security law on Hong Kong, a semiautonomous Chinese city, and pressed an increasingly aggressive campaign against dissent.

Ms. Chow and the founder of the city’s biggest pro-democracy newspaper, Apple Daily, have been among two dozen activists arrested under the national security law since it went into effect at the end of June.

The police have used more aggressive tactics and social distancing rules to clamp down on a tenacious protest movement. Eight pro-democracy lawmakers were arrested in November over a chaotic meeting that took place in the legislature in May. Hong Kong’s entire pro-democracy camp later resigned from the legislature after Beijing authorized the removal of four of their group.

Mr. Wong, who previously served three separate stints behind bars over two protest-related cases, said on Monday that he was prepared to return to jail.

“Perhaps the authorities wish me to stay in prison one term after another,” he said before his court hearing. “But I am persuaded that neither prison bars, nor election ban, nor any other arbitrary powers would stop us from activism.”

Mr. Wong pleaded guilty on Monday to charges of inciting and organizing an unauthorized assembly, for which he faces up to five years in prison. But he has maintained his innocence in a related charge of taking part in an unauthorized assembly.

Mr. Wong, 24, rose to prominence as a teenage protest leader during the Umbrella Movement.Last year, days after his release from jail, he spoke outside the Police Headquarters in Hong Kong, where thousands had gathered. He criticized the authorities for characterizing a June 12 protest outside Hong Kong’s legislature as a riot.

“No riots, only tyranny,” he led the crowd in chanting.

Later that day, some demonstrators threw eggs at the headquarters and marked graffiti on the outside walls.

Ms. Chow, 23, who like Mr. Wong was also a key figure in the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement, said she was concerned about the prospect of a prison sentence. She pleaded guilty in July to charges of participating in an unauthorized assembly and inciting others to participate that stemmed from the case.

“If sentenced, this will be my first time in prison,” she wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday. “While I say I have mentally prepared for this, I am still a bit scared.”

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