HONG KONG: Hong Kong has convicted the first person for terrorism and inciting secession, as defined by its new national security law.
Observers note that this first case might demonstrate how dissent will be dealt with in Hong Kong in the coming years.
Tong Ying-kit, 24, a waiter, was arrested after driving his motorcycle into three riot policemen while carrying a flag with the protest slogan "Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our times."
An alternative charge of dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm was not considered by prosecutors.
Instead, prosecutors focused on the slogan written on the flag by Tong Ying-kit.
In its ruling, the judges said, "We have no difficulty in coming to the sure conclusion that the Slogan as at 1 July 2020 was capable of carrying the meaning of separating the HKSAR from the PRC and was capable of inciting others to commit secession," the judges said in the ruling.
The case is seen as setting a precedent, as the government prepares to try the more than 115 people charged under the national security law that went into effect July 1, 2020.
The law has been widely criticized by Western nations.
"To convict Tong Ying-kit of 'secession' for displaying a flag bearing a widely used political slogan is a violation of international law, under which expression must not be criminalized unless it poses a concrete threat," Yamini Mishra, the Asia-Pacific regional director of Amnesty International, said in a statement. "This feels like the beginning of the end for freedom of expression in Hong Kong."