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Teen Sent to Prison for Insulting China's Flag

Hong Kong's Tony Chung, 19, sentenced over new security law
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2020 2:14 PM CST

(Newser) – A pro-democracy student leader has been sentenced to four months in prison on charges stemming from a demonstration last year, the first public political figure convicted under Hong Kong's new security law. The maximum sentence Tony Chung faced was three years' imprisonment, the BBC reports. The 19-year-old was convicted of unlawful assembly and insulting China's flag during a confrontation in May 2019 outside Hong Kong's legislature. He was accused of tugging at a flag, breaking the flagpole, then tossing the flag into the air. Chung has been in custody since October, when he was arrested outside the US Consulate. There had been talk that he would seek asylum at the consulate, per CBS News. Chung still faces trial over a charge of secession, or advocating for independence.

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The new law makes secession punishable by a life sentence. Activists have left Hong Kong since the legislation took effect this summer. China's state TV has reported that Hong Kong police have a list of 30 people no longer in Hong Kong wanted on suspicions of security law violations. At his sentencing, corrections officials told the court that Chung, who founded a student protest group that has since been disbanded, is having trouble adjusting to prison. He's had trouble sleeping, broken rules, and spent three days in solitary confinement, they said, per the South China Morning Post. "The defendant’s act was considerably insulting," the magistrate said. "It was also capable of instigating more violent reactions from members of the campaign, which is an aggravating factor." (Read more Hong Kong stories.)

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