Hong Kong activist Avery Ng faces up to one year behind bars after being convicted of revealing the identity of a government official being investigated by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

Magistrate Cheng Lim-chi convicted Ng, chair of the League of Social Democrats, on Friday at the Eastern Magistrates’ Courts of three counts of disclosing the identity of persons being investigated.

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Avery Ng. Photo: Ellie Ng/HKFP.

The court heard that Ng, 41, had disclosed to broadcaster RTHK and on social media platforms in 2016 that the anti-graft body was investigating Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs Betty Fung.

Magistrate Cheng rejected Ng’s defence that his actions were of “significant public interest,” saying that Ng only wanted to boost his profile by disclosing the probe details. He said Ng’s actions could have adverse effect on the investigations.

Fung was embroiled in a controversy at the time, facing allegations of a conflict of interest for exchanging properties with a tycoon and benefiting from the price difference.

Ng was remanded in custody following the verdict hearing. The magistrate will hand down a sentence on May 28.

‘Public explanation’ 

Ng reported to the ICAC following news reports and was later invited to the ICAC offices to give a witness statement. He told the press at the time that he could not disclose anything, except that he hoped Fung would give a public explanation, Oriental Daily reported.

Ng was subsequently arrested and charged with revealing the ICAC investigations to the public. In addition to being accused of disclosing the identity of Fung, Ng’s other charges related to his revelation that he had been invited to give a witness statement as a complainant.

“Since the Legislative Council elections last September, it is the third time law enforcement agents have searched my home and arrested me. They keep coming up with charges that are just excuses,” Ng said at the time following his arrest.

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Avery Ng (second right). Photo: League of Social Democrats, via Facebook

“The Chinese Communist Party will not allow Hong Kong to have a breathing space. But sorry, I’m not easily defeated.”

The offence carries a maximum penalty of a HK$20,000 fine and one year’s imprisonment under the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance.

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Ellie Ng

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.