Online radio host Edmund “Giggs” Wan has been sentenced to two years and eight months in prison after he reached a plea agreement with the prosecution over his sedition and money laundering charges. The court ordered Wan to hand over HK$4.87 million of his assets.
Wan appeared in front of Judge Adriana Noelle Tse Ching at the District Court on Friday morning. Wan held a copy of the Bible to his chest as he entered the court room and waved to members at the public gallery, who shouted “morning, uncle Giggs,” and “look after yourself” to the defendant.
The 54-year-old D100 Radio DJ pleaded guilty last month to three money-laundering charges involving a total of HK$10.3 million and one count of sedition, a colonial-era offence, under a plea agreement. In return for Wan pleading guilty to the four charges, a further six charges were kept on file.
The sedition charge related to 39 programmes hosted by Wan between February and November 2020 that contained “seditious” content, some of which “incited others to resist or overthrow the Chinese Communist Party” and “promote Hong Kong independence.”
In February 2020, Wan also called for donations via his website and on social media to support the living expenses of Hong Kong protesters who had travelled to seek refuge and study in Taiwan. Authorities said there were “clear signs of money-laundering” in three accounts linked to the radio host, including a “disproportionate” amount of fund and multiple large transactions made “without clear reasons.”
Tse ruled that the seditious offence was “very serious,” as Wan was involved in online media and thus had “the ability to sway public opinion.”
She said that Wan had committed the offence continuously over the nine months in question by uploading content once a week to his online platforms. As all of his video programmes were free to view for people around the world, the judge said Wan had more widespread influence than seen in previous seditious cases involving paper pamphlets.
Additionally, Tse said that when Wan was publishing the content in question, Hong Kong was “confronted with a series of unprecedented, continuous, extremely violent breaches of the law, which included many large scale, prolonged riots or violent unlawful assemblies.” She said Wan “clearly added fuel to fire,” further endangering the safety of others in society.
Tse also said Wan had persisted in his seditious behaviour for five months after the national security law came into effect, which showed he was “clearly flouting the law.”
The judge set the starting point for Wan’s sedition charge to 21 months of jail.
Tse also ruled that Wan’s three money-laundering charges were “serious offences,” as they involved HK$10.3 million, over 413 transactions and lasted for more than nine months.
The judge adopted a starting point of 30 months for his most serious money-laundering charge and 18 months for the other two. After factoring in his guilty plea, the sentences for the three offences were reduced to between 12 and 20 months.
Tse said Wan’s sedition and money-laundering offences were of “a completely different nature.” While Tse said technically she should have handed down consecutive sentences, she decided to set the overall starting point at four years in prison. After discounts, Wan was handed down a jail term of 32 months.
After taking into account the 20 months Wan has already spent in custody, a source told HKFP that he could be released in two to three months.
Citing Wan’s good character, his remorse, and his need to look after his parents, who are both over 80 and suffering from cancer, his lawyer Steven Kwan asked during mitigation for the court to offer further discounts to Wan’s sentence.
However, Tse said the one-third discount following Wan’s guilty plea already covered factors including his character and remorse, and that the defendant should have thought about the consequences his family would face before committing the offences.
The defence lawyer also said that Wan’s comments rarely alluded to the city’s Judiciary, rather they stemmed from his strong feelings about the social climate at the time. Nevertheless, Tse said “no matter how noble [he] thought, it does not constitute a mitigation factor.”
Wan was arrested in November that year and was initially granted bail, but has been remanded in custody since he was rearrested in February 2021.
Sedition is outlawed by Hong Kong’s Crimes Ordinance, which was last amended in 1972 when Hong Kong was still a British colony.