Hong Kong pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai, Labour Party vice-chair Lee Cheuk-yan and former Democratic Party chair Yeung Sum pleaded guilty on Wednesday to participating in an unauthorised assembly – an anti-extradition bill march on August 31, 2019.

From left to right: Lee Cheuk-yan, Jimmy Lai, Yeung Sum. File Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

The trio — initially set to face trial at the District Court — each pleaded guilty to one count of knowingly participating in an unauthorised assembly in violation of Article 13 of the Public Order Ordinance. They face up to five years of imprisonment.

“I plead guilty, but I have done no wrong; history will absolve us,” 64-year-old Lee said, according to a report by Stand News.

Lai, the founder and owner of Apple Daily newspaper is currently remanded in custody for a separate national security case.

Police deployed water cannon against protesters on August 31, 2019. File Photo: May James/HKFP.

Both Lai and Lee were convicted last week of unauthorised assembly in connection with another protest that occurred on August 18, 2019, and are awaiting sentencing. Both cases were heard by Judge Amanda Jane Woodcock.

The latest case arose from a “prayer walk for sinners” march on August 31, 2019, when thousands took to the streets to reiterate pro-democracy protest demands, although organisers had cancelled the gathering after police refused to approve it. The march, which started in Causeway Bay, culminated in scenes of unrest as police deployed the water cannon in Admiralty near government headquarters.

The event was billed as a religious gathering which, under the Public Order Ordinance, does not require a letter of no objection from the police as long as there are fewer than 30 participants.

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Selina Cheng

Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.