A Hong Kong court refused bail on Monday to a former lawmaker who is accused along with dozens of other democrats of “conspiring to commit subversion” under the Beijing-imposed national security law.

High Court judge Esther Toh rejected the application by “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, 65. He is one of 47 democrats charged under the law over their participation last July in a primary election for the since-postponed Legislative Council election.

High Court
Photo: GovHK.

Two other democrats, activist Jimmy Sham (33) and former lawmaker Claudia Mo (64), also went to the High Court on Monday to apply for bail. Both hearings were adjourned, Sham’s until April 12 and Mo’s till April 14.

Just 11 of the 47 have so far been allowed bail. All the others have already spent a month in custody after they were detained and charged on February 28. The next hearing in the subversion case is not scheduled till May 31.

Members of the League of Social Democrats gathered outside the High Court before the hearing with a banner signed by supporters and a message reading: “Free all political prisoners.”

Chairperson Raphael Wong said they have gathered signatures from members of the public over the past month to show support for those in custody.

LSD bail rally high court
Rally outside the High Court on Monday ahead of the bail hearings of three democrats charged under the national security law. Photo: League of Social Democrats, via Facebook.

“We hope to show all comrades in Hong Kong who are in custody or imprisoned that Hongkongers have not forgotten about them,” said Wong.

The High Court will hear another bail application on Wednesday from District Councillor Ben Chung.

The 47 democrats were accused of attempting to paralyse the government by trying to win a majority through strategic voting in the Legislative Council election with their “35+” plan. Under their plan, they would then use their majority in the legislature to veto important government bills, and eventually force the chief executive to resign.

Authorities later postponed the LegCo election on the grounds of the coronavirus pandemic, and this month China’s legislature announced sweeping changes for Hong Kong’s political system which would minimise the role of its elected members.

If convicted, the democrats could face life imprisonment under the sweeping national security law, which criminalises secession, subversion, collusion with foreign powers, and broadly defined terrorist acts including interfering with public transport.

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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.