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Hong Kong man jailed for “sedition” for criticizing government online

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53-year-old Raymond Chen has been sentenced for four months for violating Hong Kong’s “sedition” law. He had shared 23 posts online, criticizing Beijing and the Hong Kong government. Some of the posts called for the independence of Hong Kong.

Chen pleaded guilty to sharing posts criticizing the government. He shared the posts on his Telegram Channel between July 2020 and June 2022.

The Telegram Channel, called “HK’s upcoming War of Independence,” had over 500 users. Some of the posts had the slogan “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times.” The slogan was the used for the 2019 pro-democracy protests.

Other posts claimed that the police and MTR Corporation were working with the triads. Others had images of a national emblem that had been desecrated. And other posts blamed the government for the Covid-19 pandemic and sparking the anti-government protests in 2019.

Although the channel had not been updated since November 2021, the police still arrested Chen in June, the SCMP reported.

According to the prosecution, the posts shared by Chen could incite separatism and contempt and hatred for the government. The posts could also incite violence, the prosecution added.

Chen’s lawyer noted that Chen lived an ordinary life that was less-than-happy, and that he has suffered a mental illness for over two decades. The lawyer added that he lives on disability allowance and does not have political influence.

The magistrate ruling on the case said that Chen was persistent in spreading his messages for a long time.

“While society had become relatively peaceful, many people’s emotions remained unstable. Publishing posts of this nature during this period of time entailed a substantial risk of reigniting the dying embers of social unrest,” the magistrate said.

But he noted that the posts were not created by Chen and that they did not have a lot of influence.

He was sentenced to four months but will be released in about a month because he has been in custody since June.

Chen became the 15th person to be convicted of sedition since Hong Kong passed the law in 1997.

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