Chung, who is 19 years old, was detained opposite Hong Kong’s United States consulate, where he was reportedly attempting to seek asylum on October 27. The teenager was denied bail after his court appearance on October 29, with a second appearance set for January 7. If found guilty, the student faces life imprisonment.
Studentlocalism, a pro-independence student activist group that has now disbanded its Hong Kong division, was accused of publishing social media posts that supported the separation of Hong Kong from China. Fellow former members William Chan and Yanni Ho were also arrested separately on the same day. Chan and Ho, alongside Chung, were previously arrested for inciting secession in July days after the introduction of the national security law.
Chung is the second person to be charged under the new legislation, following media magnate and Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai’s arrest on August 10 on suspicion of colluding with foreign forces. National security police officers later raided the pro-democracy advocate’s private offices in October on the morning before his trial.
Hong Kong’s national security law, passed on June 30 this year, criminalises any act of secession, subversion, terrorism or collusion and is criticised for severely curtailing rights to freedom. Media accounts indicate the Hong Kong Police force will introduce a new hotline system to allow citizens to report information to aid the enforcement of the legislation. At least 29 people have already been detained under the provisions of the legislation since its ratification.
The IFJ said: “The arrest of peaceful student activists like Chung demonstrates the politically motivated and escalating attacks on freedom of speech and critical voice rampant under Hong Kong’s national security law. The IFJ urges Hong Kong authorities to release Chung, cease the ongoing restriction of activism and ensure the safety and freedoms of all citizens are upheld regardless of political affiliation.”