In a statement following Saturday’s march, the Hong Kong government reiterated that there was no political consideration in the court of appeal’s ruling but said it was aware that members of the community had “different views on the judgment”. It said the defendants had indicated they would lodge appeals, adding: “The case should be handled in accordance with judicial procedures.”Wong, 20, Law, 24 and Chow, 27, were convicted for unlawful assembly in an incident which helped to trigger the mass protests in Hong Kong, known as the Umbrella Movement.
They were among a group of student protesters who scaled a fence around Hong Kong’s legislative headquarters and occupied the building’s courtyard.Their removal by police angered the public and brought tens of thousands of people on to the streets in the following days. The three were sentenced last year to non-prison terms including community service but the justice department, seeking imprisonment, applied for a review.The jail sentences effectively stop them from standing in forthcoming elections.
Law was elected to Hong Kong’s legislature last year, becoming its youngest ever legislator. However, he was disqualified last month when the city’s high court ruled that he had improperly taken his oath.
Hong Kong’s last British governor, Chris Patten, spoke out against the decision to jail the three, writing in a letter to the Financial Times on Saturday: “The names of Joshua Wong, Alex Chow and Nathan Law will be remembered long after the names of those who have persecuted them have been forgotten and swept into the ashcan of history.”
Amnesty International also criticised the authorities for seeking jail terms for the activists, calling it a “vindictive attack” on freedom of expression.