League of Social Democrats chair Avery Ng was released on bail on Monday, after being kept behind bars for around a month over his earlier convictions.

Last May, Ng was convicted of revealing the identity of a government official who was under investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

Avery Ng league of social democrats
Avery Ng. File photo: inmediahk.net.

Magistrate Cheng Lim-chi sentenced Ng to four months’ imprisonment, which he started serving last month after a failed appeal application.

Ng sought to take his case to the Court of Final Appeal, and was released on bail for HK$30,000 on Monday. He was told not to leave Hong Kong for over two weeks, and to report regularly to a police station in Mong Kok.

His lawyers argued that the legal proceedings for Ng’s latest appeal would likely outlast his jail term, meaning he ought to be released for the time being. His application for an appeal to Hong Kong’s top court will be heard on August 2.

ICAC. File photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

In 2016, Ng disclosed to broadcaster RTHK and on social media platforms that the anti-graft body was investigating then-Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs Betty Fung.

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 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.

Betty Fung
Betty Fung. File Photo: GovHK.

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.

During the trial last year, 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 had an adverse effect on the investigations.

On May 11 2018, Ng was convicted of three counts of disclosing the identity of persons being investigated.

Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.