HONG KONG- On Thursday, one of the young leaders of Hong Kong's 2014 "Umbrella" pro-democracy street protests was sent back to prison after losing an appeal against a prison term for contempt of court.
Joshua Wong, 22, was sentenced to three months in jail in January last year for disobeying a court order and not leaving a protest zone during the rallies that blocked major roads in the Chinese-ruled city for nearly three months.
The Court of Appeal upheld the conviction but reduced his jail sentence to two months, citing his young age as a reason. He had earlier served six days before being released pending the appeal. Wong, then just 17, was at the forefront of the broad civil disobedience movement that presented China’s Communist Party rulers in Beijing with one of their biggest political challenges in decades.
"It is an affront to the court and must be met with a deterrent sentence," the three judges said in a written summary. "Any suggestion that he is punished because of his status or notoriety as a committed social activist or any other reason, whatever it might be, is entirely baseless and misconceived."
As guards led Wong away, he shouted: "Everyone keeps going!" Dozens of supporters in the public gallery cheered back in response.
"Even though they can lock up our bodies, they can`t lock up our minds," Wong said as he entered the court to hear the verdict. Britain returned Hong Kong to Chinese rule in 1997 with a guarantee of wide-ranging freedoms, including an independent judiciary and freedom of speech, but critics accuse Beijing of increasing pressure on the freewheeling global financial hub.