The former leader of the group that organised Hong Kong’s annual Tiananmen vigils has been denied access to some details of the prosecution’s case against her, two weeks ahead of the national security case going to trial.

Chow Hang-tung, former vice-chairperson of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, made the request on Wednesday for the particulars of the prosecution’s case accusing the group acting as a foreign agent in front of Principal Magistrate Peter Law at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts.

Chow Hang-tung
Chow Hang-tung. Photo: Ocean Tham/HKFP.

Chow and two other defendants, Tang Ngok-kwan and Tsui Hon-kwong, have been charged under the Beijing-imposed national security law for refusing to comply with a national security data probe. Two additional defendants in the case, Simon Leung and Chan To-wai, pleaded guilty to the charge and were sentenced to three months in prison.

The former vice-chairperson, who was representing herself, told the court that it would be “impossible” for her to prepare her case without knowing on what basis the prosecution was accusing the Alliance functioning as a foreign agent.

“This question [has] dragged on for long enough… already. From day one since we received the notices we have been asking the same questions, now there is still not [an] answer even [when] we’re two weeks from the trial,” Chow said.

The trial will begin on July 13, and has been scheduled to last five days.

In May, Law ordered the prosecution to produce some materials, with parts of the information to be withheld or redacted. The ruling came after the prosecution applied for Public Interest Immunity (PII), claiming that making the information public would harm public interest.

West Kowloon Magistrates' Courts
West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

The prosecution, led by Acting Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions (Special Duties) Ivan Cheung, said on Wednesday that the prosecution had already complied with Law’s order.

The magistrate rejected Chow’s application, and said that there was no basis for the prosecution to disclose information covered by the PII.

Prosecution application for extension

The court also handled the prosecution’s application for an extension to file documents. Cheung’s team were supposed to hand in submissions to the court and the defence on Wednesday.

Law eventually told the prosecution to hand in documents by next Monday, after Chow questioned why the prosecution needed an extension when the circumstances of the case had not changed.

The Alliance was a key player in Hong Kong civil society before it disbanded last September. It organised annual candlelight vigils every June 4 to call for democracy and commemorate victims of the bloody Tiananmen crackdown in Beijing, where it is estimated that hundreds, perhaps thousands, died when the People’s Liberation Army cracked down on protesters in Beijing.

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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.