HONG KONG, Aug. 19 (Reuters) – A pro-democracy activist from Hong Kong, who was arrested in mainland China after attempting to flee the city by boat, was convicted on Thursday of conspiring to collude with a foreign country in a security case.
Andy Li was among a group of 12 people intercepted by mainland authorities in August 2020 on a boat believed to be en route to Taiwan, in a case that has attracted the attention of the international community and raised concerns over their treatment. in China. Read more
The court heard that Li, 31, had been tasked by prominent Chinese media mogul and critic Jimmy Lai, who is in jail on charges of unlawful assembly and faces his own national security trial, to help to push for sanctions against Hong Kong and China.
High Court Judge Alex Lee has sentenced Li, who will remain in custody, for conspiring to commit acts of subversion. The case is adjourned until January 3, 2022. It is not known when Li will be sentenced.
“I agree and want to apologize,” Li told the court.
Li, who had not spoken publicly about his detention in China and was detained upon his return to Hong Kong, pleaded guilty to the charges.
Li’s attorneys Alain Sham and Trevor Chan left the court without comment. His former lawyer Lawrence Law has not commented publicly on the case and has not responded to an email from Reuters seeking comment.
Chan Tsz-wah, a 29-year-old paralegal facing similar conspiracy charges in the same case, who was not among the 12 on the boat, also pleaded guilty and was found guilty on Thursday and is due to return to court in January.
In China, the 12 were sentenced to terms ranging from seven months to three years for illegally crossing the border, or organizing passage.
Two minors were released in December, while eight others, including Li, were released in March, but they were all detained in Hong Kong upon their return on charges related to their role in pro-democracy protests that swept the city in 2019. Two others remain in a Chinese prison, serving terms of two and three years.
One of the minors, Hoang Lam Phuc, was taken into custody at an under-20 training center last month after pleading guilty to attempted arson and possession of dangerous objects. Read more
The other files are in progress.
Mainland authorities insisted that officially appointed lawyers represent the 12 for their investigation and trial in China and denied their families access to them, prompting criticism from rights groups. Two mainland-based human rights lawyers who tried to help in the case have had their licenses revoked. Read more
Diplomats and journalists have been barred from attending their trial in China.
Beatrice Li, her sister, who pleaded for more transparency on the case on the Facebook page “Andy is missing” and on her Twitter account, told Reuters just before the hearing that she still did not know “this that exactly happened ”with his brother in China and Hong Kong.
“We should look at Andy’s case as a case that looks a lot like how a case is handled in the Chinese legal system, instead of going through the usual Hong Kong legal system that we know about,” he said. she declared.
Hong Kong’s mini-constitution says the city’s judiciary is independent. In China, the courts are controlled by the Communist Party and their conviction rate is close to 100%.
China’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Bureau, which reports to the State Council, or cabinet, did not respond to a request for comment. Chinese authorities said their case was being handled “according to the law.”
A spokesperson for the Hong Kong government security office declined to comment on the details of Li’s case, citing pending legal proceedings, but said that “endangering national security is a very serious crime.”
Hong Kong “will not interfere with law enforcement, legal proceedings and the sanctions system of other jurisdictions,” the spokesperson said in an email, referring to Li’s lawsuit and trial in China.
Writing by Marius Zaharia; Editing by Stephen Coates and Michael Perry
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