Hong Kong teenage activist Tony Chung, already awaiting trial under the national security law, has been convicted in a separate case of desecrating the Chinese national flag and taking part in an unlawful assembly more than 18 months ago.
The former convenor of the pro-independence group Studentlocalism appeared at Eastern Magistrates’ Court on Friday morning. According to local media, he was found guilty of both offences during a protest outside the Legislative Council on May 14 last year, and will be sentenced later.
It was one of the earliest demonstrations against a now-withdrawn extradition bill, which sparked off months of political and social unrest in the semi-autonomous region. Chung was accused of snatching a flag from a pro-government demonstrator, resulting in it becoming detached from its pole which broke in half.
The flag offence is punishable by up to three years behind bars and a fine of HK$50,000.
The 19-year-old has been detained since late October after a Hong Kong court refused to grant him bail pending trial for an alleged national security offence.
The activist became the second person in the city to be charged under the Beijing-enacted security legislation. He also faces two counts of money-laundering and one count under colonial-era legislation of conspiracy to publish seditious materials.
Chung and three other ex-members of Studentlocalism were first arrested in July on suspicion of inciting secession, an offence under the controversial security law. The sweeping legislation – described as “draconian” by its critics – also outlaws subversion, collusion with foreign forces and terrorist acts.
Chung was apprehended again in October, reportedly before his bid to seek asylum at the US consulate, and remains in custody. Former members William Chan and Yanni Ho were re-arrested as well but were released on bail.
The student-led pro-independence group ceased operations in Hong Kong hours before the national security law went into force on June 30. The organisation later set up overseas branches in the US, Taiwan and Australia.