Tony Chung pleads guilty to secession

Former student activist Tony Chung on Wednesday pleaded guilty to the national security offence of secession and one count of money laundering, with the District Court ordering that another count of money laundering and a charge of conspiracy to publish seditious material were to be left on file.

Prosecutors said Chung, 20, had used his role as the leader of the now-disbanded pro-independence group Studentlocalism to publish seditious messages on social media and hold activities and protests last year with secessionist intent.

They also accused him of using a Paypal account to collect funds from his supporters to sponsor illegal acts.

“I have nothing to be ashamed of,” Chung said while pleading guilty to secession, prompting judge Stanley Chan to warn him not to make any political statement in court.

Chung said he understood and agreed with the case against him, after prosecutors spent two hours reading out a 69-page document chronicling facts against him.

They said that after the national security law was enacted in June 2020, Chung continued to publish posts on his group’s Facebook page.

They said while Chung had claimed that Studentlocalism would stop all its activities in the SAR, the Facebook page continued to provide a link for people to donate funds and for volunteers to register as members.

Chung also set up a Facebook page for the US division of Studentlocalism in July 2020, prosecutors said, and the idea of Hong Kong independence was further promoted there.

The court also heard that police had seized pro-independence flags, leaflets, and books about Hong Kong independence at Chung’s home.

The judge noted that the prosecution and the defence had earlier reached a plea deal. He adjourned the case to November 23 for Chung’s mitigation plea and sentencing, adding that the court would need a background report on the defendant in the meantime.

People convicted of secession can be sentenced to life imprisonment, although the District Court can only jail people for up to seven years.

Chung, who has been held in custody since he was arrested in a coffee shop near the US consulate last October, is the third person convicted under the national security law.

Tong Ying-kit was jailed for nine years in July for inciting secession and terrorism, and last month Ma Chun-man, dubbed Captain America 2.0, was also convicted of inciting secession. Ma’s sentencing is set for November 11.
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Last updated: 2021-11-03 HKT 16:10