Three people convicted of rioting and assaulting a mainland journalist at Hong Kong International Airport during anti-government protests in 2019 were jailed on Friday for up to 5 1/2 years.

The incident happened in August 2019 when thousands occupied the airport, bringing flights to a halt as part of months of protest against an extradition bill and other issues.

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District judge Clement Lee described the events at the airport, including the assault on Global Times reporter Fu Guohao, as “extremely provocative, insulting and invasive” and said they had brought shame on Hong Kong.

Lai Yunlong, 20, Amy Pat, 23, and Ho Ka-lok, 29, were convicted of rioting and assault causing actual bodily harm. Lai was also convicted of obstructing public officers, while Pat was convicted of false imprisonment. Ho was found guilty of possessing an offensive weapon.

Lai was sentenced to five years and three months, while Ho was jailed for five and a half years. Pat, who was already serving a jail sentence for another conviction, was sentenced to four years and three months.

Founded in 1993, the Global Times is a state-run tabloid under the Communist Party’s flagship paper the People’s Daily. It is known for its hardline editorials.

Fu was surrounded by protesters at the airport when he refused to show his press pass after being seen taking close-up photos of demonstrators. They tied his hands to a trolley with zip ties and searched his bag.

Inside were a blue t-shirt bearing the message “I love police” along with business cards of police officers.

Fu Guohao
Fu Guohao, tied up, with “I love police” t-shirt.

“I support Hong Kong police. You may now beat me up,” Fu told protesters as he was being tied up.

Pro-democracy lawmakers Kwok Ka-ki and Fernando Cheung tried to mediate to stop the mob beating Fu and he was later escorted to an ambulance.

Judge Lee described the incident as a serious case of riotous assembly, and said the sentencing had to have a deterrent effect.

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.