A Hong Kong delivery worker has been sentenced to eight months in prison under the colonial-era sedition law for publishing social media posts that called for the city’s independence, the use of violence and a boycott of Covid-19 regulations.
Wong Chun-kit appeared before Chief Magistrate Victor So at West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts on Thursday.
The 42-year-old had earlier pleaded guilty to “doing an act or acts with sedition intention” by posting 113 “seditious” messages on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter between January 30, 2021 and November 21, 2022.
So said Wong had published messages advocating Hong Kong’s independence and mentioning “revolution,” “starting a war” and “uprising” in some posts.
He said Wong had encouraged others to use violence and copy the actions of a man who stabbed and injured a police officer on July 1, 2021 and took his own life afterwards.
The delivery worker also published posts that urged others not to use the government’s Covid-19 contact-tracing app LeaveHomeSafe, not to get vaccinated and not to wear a mask.
The magistrate said Wong had published his messages on four accounts across three social media platforms that are “widely popular in the world.”
So said Wong could have restricted access to his posts but had decided to leave them open for public view.
“[The defendant’s] method spreads his messages widely, with an extremely high level of penetration. What he did was continuous and permanent,” the magistrate said.
He added that Wong had produced and written his own content on top of sharing others’ ideas.
‘Threats’ to public safety
Wong’s lawyer said his client felt “deep remorse” and had acted “out of impulse and a lack of understanding of the damage his actions could have led to.”
The court heard that Wong was apologetic towards all affected government departments as well to as his 69-year-old mother for the mental stress he caused her.
The lawyer said Wong was willing to delete all of his social media accounts and pledge not to commit the same offence again.
However, the magistrate said he should consider a deterrent sentence to stop others from copying Wong’s actions or following his advocacy.
So said the defendant had incited others to organise to engage in acts endangering social order, which “brings actual and potential threats to public safety.”
Wong was jailed for eight months, after the court applied a one-third discount to the starting sentence of 12 months.
Hong Kong’s sedition law was last amended in the 1970s when the city was still a British colony. The maximum penalty under the charge is two years’ imprisonment.
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