Hong Kong former district councillor Sam Cheung has welcomed a baby boy into the world whilst the democrat is in custody awaiting a start date for his national security law trial.

A Facebook page titled “Cheung’s Family” – run by the activist’s family and friends – announced on Tuesday that they had a “new family member,” together with a photo of the newborn grabbing a person’s finger.

The birth of Cheung’s son came as the 28-year-old localist has been detained for more than six months, pending trial over an alleged conspiracy with 46 other pro-democracy figures to commit “subversion” by organising and taking part in an unofficial legislative primary election in July 2020.

The ex-Tuen Mun District Council member was originally granted bail by Chief Magistrate Victor So when the case was first mentioned in court in early March. But So’s decision was immediately challenged by the prosecution, whose objection was later upheld by the High Court.

In the review of Cheung’s bail status on March 15, Senior Counsel Lawrence Lok mentioned the pregnancy of Cheung’s wife as one of the reasons why the activist had “minimal chances” of re-offending or continuing to offend against the Beijing-imposed security law.

But designated national security judge Esther Toh sided with the prosecution and said Cheung was “determined and resolute in his actions in advancing the agenda for mutual destruction.” She ruled that there were no sufficient grounds for believing that Cheung would not continue to commit acts endangering national security and revoked Cheung’s bail.

According to local media, Cheung’s wife attended the bail hearing in March and showed the detained activist an ultrasound picture. After his bail was repealed, Cheung chanted “I love you.”

Sam Cheung pregnant wife
Detained activist Sam Cheung’s pregnant wife arrives at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts to attend a hearing on Cheung’s national security case. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

The 47 democrats charged are set to appear in court on September 23, when their case is expected to be officially transferred to the High Court. If convicted at the High Court, national security defendants can receive a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

In June 2020, Beijing inserted national security legislation directly into Hong Kong’s mini-constitution – bypassing the local legislature – following a year of pro-democracy protests and unrest. It criminalised subversion, secession, collusion with foreign forces and terrorist acts, which were broadly defined to include disruption to transport and other infrastructure. The move gave police sweeping new powers, alarming democrats, civil society groups and trade partners, as such laws have been used broadly to silence and punish dissidents in China. However, the authorities say it has restored stability and peace to the city.

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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.