Four former leaders of a defunct pro-democracy activist group pleaded guilty to conspiring to incite subversion under the Beijing-imposed national security law on Friday.

Student Politicism’s ex-convenor Wong Yat-chin, ex-secretary general Chan Chi-sum, and ex-spokespersons Jessica Chu and Alice Wong appeared at the District Court in front of handpicked national security judge Kwok Wai-kin on Friday.

Yuen Long July 21, 2021 Wong Yat-chin
Student Politicism convenor Wong Yat-chin makes a speech at the Yuen Long public transport interchange on July 21. 2021. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

The sweeping legislation, enacted in June 2020, also criminalises secession, collusion with foreign powers, and terrorist acts, which are broadly defined to include disruption to transport and other infrastructure.

Slogans and street booths

The prosecution listed seven street booths held by the defunct group with themes ranging from supporting the 12 Hongkongers captured by Chinese coastguards as they tried to flee to Taiwan, to resisting the government’s Covid-19 anti-epidemic measures.

The prosecution also said that the defendants spread messages that incited others to take part in resistance.

According to the prosecution’s case, the former convenor “invited others to take part in ‘the resistance’ against those in power,” and told the public to remember ‘liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times.”

Chan Chi-sum Student Politicism
Student Politicism Secretary General Chan Chi-sum. File photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

The prosecutor said that the slogan could carry the meaning of separating Hong Kong from China and inciting secession, and that Wong Yat-chin said it was not only a slogan, but “a belief to be held and realised.”

Wong was also said to have sought to incite others to build a “Hong Kong nation” during his speeches at the street booths. The former convenor, according to the prosecution, also told the public to ensure “mental and physical preparation” for revolution.

The former leaders also incited the public to not follow the government’s anti-epidemic measures, the prosecution said.

judge kwok wai kin tseung kwan o lennon wall swapped
Judge Kwok Wai-kin. File photo: CitizenNews.

Chu, at a street booth set up in Mong Kok in February last year, told the public to not download the government’s contact-tracing mobile application LeaveHomeSafe, and said that people should provide false information to make it more difficult for the administration to trace those infected with Covid-19.

All four defendants agreed to the prosecution’s case. Chu, who was the only person who received bail among the group, applied to revoke her bail. The remaining three defendants, who have been remanded for 10 months since September last year, did not apply for bail.

The group will be appear in court again on September 25 for mitigation, as the barrister representing Wong Yat-chin said that they wanted to wait for a judgement concerning the appeal against sentencing in another national security case.

While the maximum sentence for inciting subversion is 10 years imprisonment, the longest jail term the District Court can hand down is seven years.

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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.