Publisher, two politicians charged over Hong Kong protests

Updated February 29, 2020

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The months of demonstrations calling for reforms in semi-autonomous Hong Kong crippled its economy. — Reuters/File
The months of demonstrations calling for reforms in semi-autonomous Hong Kong crippled its economy. — Reuters/File

KONG HONG: Outspoken Hong Kong publisher Jimmy Lai and two prominent opposition politicians were charged ON Friday with illegal assembly over a pro-democracy march last year as the territory’s Beijing-backed government appeared to move to settle scores over the protests.

The months of demonstrations calling for reforms in semi-autonomous Hong Kong crippled its economy and put its leaders and police force under unprecedented pressure.

Lai was picked up from his home by police officers early Friday, while former pro-democracy legislator Yeung Sum and former legislator and vice chairman of the Labour Party, Lee Cheuk-yan, were also arrested.

Well, the Hong Kong situation is getting tense here, but we have to go on, we have to go on, Lai told reporters after speaking with officers. The three left the police station after being charged and are to appear in court on May 5. They could face up to five years in prison along with fines.

Senior police officer Wong Tung-kwong said all three were charged with illegal assembly in connection with the Aug. 31 march, which was timed to mark the fifth anniversary of a decision by China against fully democratic elections in Hong Kong.

Organizers called off the march after police banned it, but hundreds of thousands of people defied the order.

Published in Dawn, February 29th, 2020