A Hong Kong court has approved the latest bail application from pro-democracy activist Owen Chow, who is among a group of 47 charged with subversion under the Beijing-imposed national security law.

The 24-year-old, who has been detained for almost four months, appeared in front of High Court judge Esther Toh on Tuesday. Chow became the 12th democrat in the case to be given bail awaiting trial for the offence of “conspiracy to commit subversion.”

owen chow
After being detained for almost four months, activist Owen Chow left the High Court on Tuesday evening, hours after Madam Justice Esther Toh approved his latest application for bail pending trial under the national security law. Photo: Kelly Ho//HKFP.

In extending bail to Chow, Toh said she had sufficient grounds to believe that the activist would not continue to commit acts endangering national security if bail was granted.

Chow and 46 other pro-democracy figures stand accused of taking part in an unofficial primary election last July with an intention to subvert state power.

Chow was ordered to pay HK$50,000 cash bail. His sister would provide a surety of HK$50,000. He must not leave the city and had to surrender all of his travel documents to the court.

Toh ordered him to live at his given address in Tsing Yi, and observe a curfew from 12 am to 7 am. He must report to Tsing Yi police station between 6 pm to 9 pm every day, and must not contact prosecution witnesses.

High Court
High Court. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

Chow also has to follow a list of bail conditions set out by Chief Magistrate Victor So when he granted bail to some of the defendants in March, including not making any speeches or taking part in any behaviour that could be seen as endangering national security. They are also banned from participating in any elections or contacting any foreign officials.

Dressed in a white shirt and black suit, Chow raised his thumb up after he was granted bail. His sister and friends told HKFP outside the court that the decision by Toh was “unexpected.”

Chow is also facing rioting charges in connection with the storming of the Legislative Council on July 1, 2019.

Reporting on bail proceedings are subject to restrictions set out in section 9P of the Criminal Procedure Ordinance. Toh said she will explain the reasons for approving Chow’s bail application in a written judgement later .

The 47 national security suspects are set to appear in a committal proceeding on July 8, when the court will formally deal with a prosecution application to transfer the case to the city’s High Court. Defendants convicted in the High Court face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

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Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.