Former localist political leader Edward Leung has been transferred to a maximum-security prison, according to local media.

Leung was the spokesperson of the now inactive localist party Hong Kong Indigenous which advocated Hongkongers’ “self-determination” for the city’s future. He ran in the Legislative Council New Territories (East) By-election in 2016 and was convicted of rioting as he campaigned during the unrest in Mong Kok in 2016. During the Lunar New Year festivities, bloody clashes broke out between protesters and police, triggered by the authorities’ attempts to clear street hawkers.

According to HK01 on Thursday, he was transferred from Shek Pik prison on Lantau to another facility with Category A security.

Edward Leung
Edward Leung. File photo: Wikimedia Commons/VOA/Iris Tong.

Leung was sentenced to six years behind bars in 2018 and he applied for an appeal against his sentence last October. His campaign slogan in 2016: “Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our times” – one which has since been adopted by Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.

The news of his transfer first emerged on Wednesday as opposition lawmaker Cheng Chung-tai, chair of Civic Passion, said on Facebook that an inmate had received enough letters and Christmas cards to fill a suitcase. He speculated as to the reason for the transfer: “Maybe there was sensitive content, maybe some maniacs said they would break into the prison, maybe the Communists set him up, maybe the Department made a great deal out of it… To conclude, after receiving these cards the inmate was transferred to a Category A prison with maximum security…”

有一位在囚人士,在聖誕期間收到了一堆如行李喼大小的書信及聖誕卡。可能內裡有一些敏感內容;可能有人瘋狂地說要劫獄;可能是土共借機𨃩佢一鑊;可能是署方玩嘢小題大做⋯⋯結論是,這位囚友在收到這些卡後,被調柙至最高設防級別的 Cat….

Posted by Chung-Tai Cheng 鄭松泰 on Wednesday, 4 March 2020

Cheng did not specify who the inmate was in this Facebook post, but HK01 quoted a source as saying it was Leung.

Upon enquiries from HKFP, the Correctional Services Department said they would not comment on individual inmates due to privacy issues.

Under normal circumstances, Category A prisons would only accommodate inmates who are serving over 12 years of imprisonment, but the Department said there might be exceptions: “For instance, in the case of a triad leader imprisoned, even if his term is under 12 years, the Department may take into consideration his background and arrange for him to serve at a Category A prison.”

Pik Uk Correctional Institution
Pik Uk Correctional Institution. File photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Prisoners under Category A security cannot interact with prisoners of a lower level of security, but they enjoy the same duration of rest time, the Department added.

The Department said that inmates’ behaviour is not the only factor to consider in case of a transfer: “[We] would consider factors including the inmates’ crime, term of imprisonment and security concerns to categorise their security levels, and – in accordance to that – arrange for them to serve at a suitable facility.”

Since his conviction, Leung had been serving his term in Pik Uk Correctional Institution which houses mostly young men according to the official website.

Rachel Wong previously worked as a documentary producer and academic researcher. She has a BA in Comparative Literature and European Studies from the University of Hong Kong. She has contributed to A City Made by People and The Funambulist, and has an interest in cultural journalism and gender issues.