Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong has pleaded guilty to inciting and organizing an unauthorized assembly, his spokesperson confirmed on Monday.
Wong was charged with “inciting to knowingly take part in an unauthorised assembly,” “organising an unauthorised assembly” and “knowingly taking part in an unauthorised assembly” in relation to a protest outside police headquarters in Wan Chai in June last year.
Wong was due to enter the first day of a six-day trial on Monday, but said on social media a day earlier that he would plead guilty to the first two charges.
He now faces a maximum of five years’ imprisonment. Isaac Cheng, a Wong spokesperson and the former vice chair of now-disbanded democracy group Demosisto, told dpa that Wong pleaded not guilty to the third charge of taking part in an unauthorized assembly, adding that the prosecution offered no evidence in court.
Wong and fellow activists Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam, who respectively pleaded guilty to inciting and taking part in an unauthorized assembly, were remanded in custody until December 2 to await sentencing at the same trial.
Demosisto disbanded just hours after Beijing on June 30 imposed a sweeping new national security law on Hong Kong targeting secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces in Hong Kong.
Critics say its purpose is to quash dissent in the financial hub, which has been roiled by protests.
“It would not be surprising if I’m sent to immediate detention today,” Wong said in a statement before entering court. “Everyday we have activists standing trials, [and] protestors sent to jail.”
Wong said he was prepared for the “thin chance of walking free,” and hoped his case would draw the world’s attention to Hong Kong’s criminal justice system which he said was being “crippled” by China.
Wong, who has been arrested several times since last year, was banned from the 2020 Legislative Council (LegCo) elections alongside several other democrats, days before Chief Executive Carrie Lam suspended the vote citing the pandemic.
This month four opposition lawmakers lost their seats at LegCo after parliament adopted a resolution enabling them to disqualify lawmakers without going through court.
The move triggered the mass resignation of 15 other opposition lawmakers.