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Hong Kong Denies Bail to First Person Charged under New National-Security Law

Supporters raise white paper to avoid slogans banned under the national security law as they support arrested anti-law protester, as a prison van leaves Eastern court in Hong Kong, China, July 3, 2020. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters)

Hong Kong has charged a man with terrorism and denied him bail under the territory’s strict new national-security law, making him the first person to be charged under the controversial law recently imposed by China.

Tong Ying-kit, 23, carried a “Liberate Hong Kong” sign and drove his motorcycle into police, knocking over and injuring several officers, video footage of the incident showed.

Ying-kit appeared Friday in court in a wheelchair after suffering injuries during the incident. He remains in custody, and his case has been adjourned until October 6.

Under the new law, the phrase “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” is a sign of separatism or subversion, authorities said. Chief Magistrate So Wai-tak cited the new law in his decision not to grant bail, saying it allows bail to be denied to suspects the judge believes will continue to threaten national security.

China’s National People’s Congress bypassed Hong Kong’s legislature and passed the law unanimously last week.

Beijing claims that the national-security law is necessary to crack down on separatism, subversion, terrorism, and foreign intervention in Hong Kong. However, critics and pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong have warned that the law, which comes after months of pro-democracy demonstrations among residents of the territory, will erase the “one country, two systems” arrangement between Hong Kong and Beijing and will subvert the freedoms currently enjoyed by Hong Kong residents, including the right to assembly, a free press, and a judiciary system independent of mainland China.

The U.S. and Britain have condemned the law as an attempt by Beijing to tighten its grip on Hong Kong.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Congress in May that the city of Hong Kong no longer “maintains a high degree of autonomy from China,” an appraisal that indicates the U.S. may end its special trading relationship with the financial hub.

Meanwhile, British prime minister Boris Johnson said last month that the United Kingdom is ready to offer refuge and a path to citizenship to nearly three million Hong Kong citizens should China follow through on implementing the national-security laws. Johnson said the laws violate the terms of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, the agreement the U.K. reached with China after Hong Kong returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.

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