STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Hong Kong's top court strikes down Joshua Wong prison sentence

Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong scored a major legal victory Tuesday, as the city's top court threw out ...

Posted: Feb 6, 2018 12:11 PM
Updated: Feb 6, 2018 12:12 PM

Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong scored a major legal victory Tuesday, as the city's top court threw out the prison sentences handed to him and two other leaders of the 2014 Umbrella Movement protests.

In August, Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow were convicted to between six and eight months in prison for public order offenses stemming from the protests, which shut down parts of the city for several months.

Court endorsed a stricter standard for future protests which could result in more prison sentences

Wong said the "road ahead is still very difficult" for the city's pro-democracy movement

They were originally sentenced to community service and suspended sentences, but an appeals court controversially upgraded that to prison time. Tuesday's decision quashes their prison sentences and reinstates the initial ruling.

While the Court of Final Appeal (CFA) endorsed a higher standard for public order offenses put forward by the Court of Appeal, it said the judges were wrong to apply that standard retroactively to Wong, Law and Chow's case.

However, the city's top court warned that in future, public order offenders, even those stemming from civil disobedience, would be dealt with strictly and could involve prison terms.

Nor is Tuesday's win the end for Wong. He's currently out on bail appealing a separate conviction, for contempt of court, also stemming from the 2014 protests.

"I would not say this is a win and there is no reason for us to celebrate. What we are up against is the court taking a very narrow definition of non-violent civil disobedience actions," said Wong.

"The road ahead is still very difficult."

Legal overload

Tuesday's case was one of dozens brought against protesters and pro-democracy politicians since the 2014 demonstrations, which analysts say are designed to sap morale and dissuade other young people from taking to the streets.

In the past year or so, pro-democracy politicians have been disqualified from office, had numerous court cases brought against them, and prospective candidates have been barred from standing in elections to the city's parliament.

Last month, Agnes Chow, a member of Wong and Law's political party, Demosisto, had her application to run in an upcoming by-election denied on the grounds that the party's platform advocates for Hong Kongers to be allowed to decide on their own future, including voting on a potential break from China.

In 2016 several candidates advocating for Hong Kong independence were also barred from running for office -- on the grounds that this is contrary to the city's constitutional principles as a Special Administrative Region of China.

In a statement, a group of senior Hong Kong lawyers said the decision to bar Chow was "unreasonable, unlawful and unconstitutional."

"Disqualification of candidates with certain political opinion or affiliation frustrates the core purpose of an open and fair election, which is to guarantee the free expression of the will of the electors," the statement said.

The move was also widely denounced by international observers. A European Union spokeswoman said it "risks diminishing Hong Kong's international reputation as a free and open society" and was in contravention of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Hong Kong is a signatory.

Speaking to reporters following the decision however, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said "any suggestion of Hong Kong independence or democratic self-determination ... deviates from the important basic principle of 'one country, two systems'," under which the city is governed.

Nobel nomination

Lam had denounced international criticism of the Chow decision as interference in Hong Kong's internal affairs, a point she returned to this month after several US lawmakers nominated Wong, Law and Chow for this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

"This nomination could not be more timely as Hong Kong's long-cherished autonomy continues to erode, and Umbrella Movement leaders face reprisals simply for espousing basic human rights and freedoms," said Senator Marco Rubio in statement. "Joshua Wong and his fellow pro-democracy advocates have been unflinching in their peaceful and principled commitment to a free and prosperous Hong Kong."

The statement referenced the death last year of jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, the first Nobel Peace Prize laureate to die in state custody since Carl von Ossietzky in Nazi Germany in 1938.

In a joint statement, the three said they were honored to receive the nomination, adding "at this critical juncture, we need to join hands with the international community and together defend Hong Kong as a bridgehead for democratic movements."

Lam however said the move was "regrettable" and accused the US lawmakers of seeking "political intervention" in Hong Kong's affairs.

In a statement, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said "Hong Kong's affairs are China's domestic affairs, and China firmly objects to anyone intervening through any means."

Only politicians, former laureates, and certain civil society groups can nominate people or institutions for the Nobel Peace Prize.

While the award has been widely criticized in the past from multiple political quarters, it still carries huge international cache.

China was so incensed with Liu's win that it cut trade with Norway, hurting the country's economy, and similar reaction could be expected were Wong, Law and Chow to win.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 309223

Reported Deaths: 7153
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21005250
Hinds19989411
Harrison17590303
Rankin13388277
Jackson13169243
Madison9965212
Lee9900170
Jones8319161
Forrest7554149
Lauderdale7232237
Lowndes6306144
Lamar614685
Lafayette6081118
Washington5296133
Bolivar4778130
Oktibbeha458097
Panola4461103
Pearl River4447142
Warren4310119
Marshall4302103
Pontotoc417672
Monroe4063132
Union405175
Neshoba4009176
Lincoln3892109
Hancock373785
Leflore3471124
Sunflower332090
Tate325984
Pike3226105
Scott311973
Yazoo305369
Alcorn301566
Itawamba297977
Copiah294365
Coahoma290779
Simpson290486
Tippah285368
Prentiss276659
Marion266479
Leake262473
Wayne261541
Grenada257385
Covington255380
Adams247082
Newton246161
George238947
Winston226181
Tishomingo222867
Jasper220248
Attala213673
Chickasaw205857
Holmes187272
Clay183354
Stone179733
Clarke178177
Tallahatchie176240
Calhoun165632
Yalobusha160236
Smith159734
Walthall131143
Greene129633
Lawrence126823
Noxubee126634
Montgomery125842
Perry125238
Amite121041
Carroll121026
Webster113932
Jefferson Davis105932
Tunica103425
Claiborne101430
Benton97525
Kemper95728
Humphreys94732
Franklin83123
Quitman78916
Choctaw74417
Wilkinson65329
Jefferson64928
Sharkey49817
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 522512

Reported Deaths: 10790
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson755371494
Mobile39129799
Madison34124500
Tuscaloosa25408444
Montgomery24059573
Shelby23225242
Baldwin20730302
Lee15638166
Calhoun14358311
Morgan14171273
Etowah13705348
Marshall12012220
Houston10416279
Elmore10024203
Limestone9862148
Cullman9509191
St. Clair9486236
Lauderdale9280233
DeKalb8762183
Talladega8127173
Walker7151276
Autauga6763106
Jackson6762110
Blount6532133
Colbert6236132
Coffee5436113
Dale4781111
Russell431239
Franklin421382
Chilton4130110
Covington4069115
Tallapoosa3922148
Escambia390374
Dallas3528150
Chambers3519122
Clarke347360
Marion3076100
Pike306676
Lawrence296395
Winston273272
Bibb256761
Marengo248561
Geneva246475
Pickens233259
Barbour227155
Hale218675
Butler213268
Fayette209660
Henry188444
Cherokee182744
Randolph177841
Monroe173140
Washington165538
Macon156548
Clay150255
Crenshaw149557
Cleburne147041
Lamar140034
Lowndes137353
Wilcox124727
Bullock122040
Conecuh109728
Perry107726
Sumter103332
Coosa99428
Greene91434
Choctaw58824
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Partly Cloudy
74° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 74°
Columbus
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 75°
Oxford
Partly Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 72°
Starkville
Partly Cloudy
73° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 73°
A strong cold front will pass through our area this evening. This will bring some very unseasonably cold air into our area for a few days. We will see some potential for some frosty conditions for tonight and for our Wednesday night.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather