Hong Kong student leader Joshua Wong sent back to jail

Hong Kong (AFP)


Prominent Hong Kong student leader Joshua Wong was sent back to prison Thursday after he lost an attempt to quash a jail sentence over his leadership of huge democracy protests five years ago.

Wong, 22, became one of the most recognisable faces of the "Umbrella Movement" in 2014 which paralysed key intersections of the financial hub for more than two months.

Protesters were demanding a greater say in how the city is run, including the right for Hong Kongers to directly elect the city's leader.

The movement -- which took its name from the umbrellas protesters used to defend themselves against police -- failed to win any concessions from the city's pro-Beijing authorities, and its leaders faced a slew of prosecutions.

Wong, who was 17 when the protests began, was jailed for three months in January 2018 on a contempt charge after pleading guilty to obstructing the clearance of a major protest camp.

He served only six days of that sentence before being released on bail pending an appeal.

On Thursday, however, a senior judge said Wong must return to jail -- albeit for a reduced sentence of two months.

Justice of Appeal Jeremy Poon said Wong's age at the time of the offence was a mitigating factor, as well as his guilty plea and apology.

But he dismissed Wong's argument that he had been excessively punished by authorities because of his prominent status as "entirely baseless and misconceived".

Wong turned to supporters after the verdict and told them to "add oil" -- a commonly used Cantonese phrase of encouragement.

He was then led away to a prison van.

Speaking to reporters before the verdict, Wong said he was facing the prospect of jail "with a calm mind", noting that other leaders had received much longer sentences.

Last month two key leaders of the protests were jailed for 16 months.

"We will never forget the spirit of Umbrella Movement and we will continue to fight for free elections," he said.

He also warned of controversial plans by Hong Kong's government to approve extraditions to the Chinese mainland for the first time.

"Today the High Court, tomorrow the People's Court," he said, referring to the mainland's judicial system.

Wong was also convicted in a second prosecution related to the storming of a government forecourt during the 2014 protests.

He spent some time behind bars for that case, but in the end the city's top court ruled that community service was sufficient punishment.