A man charged with sedition over social media posts was again denied bail on national security grounds when he appeared in court on Thursday, one day before the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s Handover.

West Kowloon Law Courts
West Kowloon Law Courts Building. File photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

Chan Kwun-yuk, 28, was arrested last week and first appeared before West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts last Friday. He is accused under the colonial-era sedition law of sharing words, photos and posters on Instagram between January 17, 2021 and June 13 this year, with the intention of bringing into hatred or contempt or exciting disaffection against the Chinese central authorities or the Hong Kong administration.

His first bail application last week was denied by Principal Magistrate Peter Law, who ruled that he may continue to carry out acts that endanger national security. Law also ruled against Chan’s second application on Thursday on the same grounds.

The unemployed man was represented by a duty lawyer at both hearings. The court heard on Thursday after the second bail rejection that Chan would not be making further applications.

He will appear in court again on August 4 after the prosecution sought an adjournment to allow for further police investigations.

Instagram icon stock photo
Instagram. File photo: Yuri Samoilov, via Flickr.

Chan was among a total of seven people arrested under the sedition law or for other offences in the run-up to the anniversary.

National security grounds

The law on sedition was last amended in the 1970s, when the city was still a British colony. It is separate from the national security legislation imposed by Beijing in June 2020.

However, following a ruling by Hong Kong’s top court last December, the stricter bail threshold in national security law cases may also be applied to people accused of sedition. Under this, judges must decide whether there are sufficient grounds to believe that a defendant if bailed would not continue to engage in acts endangering national security.

Under court reporting restrictions, written and broadcast reports are limited to the result of bail proceedings, the name of the person applying for bail and their lawyer, and the offence concerned.

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Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.