A national security case against a 23-year-old Hong Kong student was moved to the city’s High Court on Friday.

Cheung Ho-yeung appeared at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts in front of Chief Magistrate Victor So.

West Kowloon Law Courts Building
West Kowloon Law Courts Building. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

The 23-year-old is charged under the Beijing-imposed national security law for allegedly conspiring with others “with a view to coercing” the Central and Hong Kong governments, or “intimidating the public in order to pursue political agenda, to organise, plan, commit, participate in or threaten to commit terrorist activities” between April 1, 2021 and July 5, 2021.

He is also facing an alternative charge of “conspiracy to cause explosions likely to endanger life or property.”

Chief Magistrate So, following a request from the prosecution, moved Cheung’s case to the Court of First Instance for trial. The maximum penalty for conspiracy to commit terrorist activities is life imprisonment.

Under reporting restrictions on committal proceedings, written and broadcast reports are limited to include only the name of the defendants, magistrates, lawyers, the alleged offence, the court’s decision, whether legal aid was granted, and future court dates.

Victor SO Wai-tak 蘇惠德
Victor So. Photo: Judiciary.

Cheung did not apply for bail. He has been remanded in custody since last month.

Six of the student’s alleged co-conspirators pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit terrorist acts or conspiring to cause explosions likely to endanger life or property last Saturday, and will appear in court again on May 25 for mitigation and sentencing.

The sweeping security legislation, enacted in June 2020, also criminalised subversion, secession, and collusion with foreign forces.

The move gave police sweeping new powers, alarming democrats, civil society groups and trade partners, as such laws have been used broadly to silence and punish dissidents in China. However, the authorities say it has restored stability and peace to the city.

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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.