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Hong Kong Court Convicts 14 Pro-Democracy Activists in National Security Trial

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A Hong Kong court has found 14 pro-democracy activists guilty of subversion in the city’s largest national security trial to date. This verdict marks a significant blow to the remaining embers of Hong Kong’s once-vibrant democracy movement.

The 14 were among 47 activists and politicians arrested in 2021 for their participation in an unofficial primary election. Prosecutors argued that the activists, by strategically fielding candidates, aimed to “overthrow” the government. The activists, on the other hand, maintained they were simply exercising their democratic right to participate in the electoral process.

The trial, which began in April 2024, was closely watched by the international community. Critics have accused the Hong Kong government of using the national security law, imposed by Beijing in 2020, to stifle dissent.

Two of the defendants, lawyer Lau Wai-chung and Lee Yue-shun, were acquitted, marking the first time charges under the national security law have been dismissed. However, the remaining 14 face a maximum sentence of life in prison. Sentencing is expected in the coming weeks.

“This verdict is a travesty of justice,” said a spokesperson for a prominent human rights organization. “These activists were simply trying to uphold democratic values. Their conviction sends a chilling message to anyone who dares to speak out against the government.”

The future of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement remains uncertain. This mass trial is likely to further discourage activism and dissent in the city. However, it also comes at a time when the international community is increasingly vocal about the erosion of freedoms in Hong Kong.

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