Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong freed on bail

2017-10-24 11:02
Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong. (AP File)

Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong. (AP File)

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Hong Kong - Hong Kong's highest court freed pro-democracy activists Joshua Wong and Nathan Law on bail on Tuesday pending an appeal of their prison sentences after they were convicted of sparking massive protests in 2014.

The pair were imprisoned after the justice secretary succeeded in getting an earlier, more lenient sentence overturned, raising concerns about political interference in the courts and dealing a setback to the movement for full democracy in the Chinese-controlled city.

The decision to release Wong, the city's most famous activist, and Law, a disqualified lawmaker, coincidentally came the same day China's Communist Party was ending a twice-a-decade congress in Beijing that expanded President Xi Jinping's power. There appeared to be no link, though the two events highlighted the widening rift between mainland China and semi-autonomous Hong Kong.

Law told reporters outside the Court of Final Appeal that he and Wong were granted bail until their appeals are heard on November 7.

It's unclear if they'll be successful, he said.

"Let's see," Law said. "The world is watching the result of the case," which he said would hinge on whether the "one country, two systems" principle guaranteeing Hong Kong wide autonomy from mainland China is still enforced.

He said he was looking forward to having a meal with his family after some "uncomfortable" times during his two months in prison.

Broadcaster RTHK reported that Judge Geoffrey Ma required each to post 50 000 Hong Kong dollars ($6 400) for bail, surrender their travel documents and report to police once a week.

Wong and Law were originally given community service sentences that let them avoid prison after convictions for involvement in an unlawful assembly that kicked off the "Umbrella Movement" protests.

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