HK activist Joshua Wong pleads guilty over June 4 ‘illegal assembly’

Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong was among four people who pleaded guilty on Friday of participating in an illegal assembly on June 4 last year to commemorate the 1989 crackdown on protesters in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. All four defendants were remanded in jail ahead of sentencing next Thursday, but all except Leung were already behind bars before Friday’s hearing.

The four were the first batch of defendants to enter a formal plea at the District Court on charges arising from the annual candlelight vigil in Victoria Park, which was banned by police last year for the first time since it started in 1990. The trial of the case, which involved a total of 26 defendants, including another instigator Jimmy Lai, started on Feb. 5. The judge adjourned the case to April 30 for the above four defendants who intended to plead guilty. Another defendant Eddie Chu was considering his intention of plea and applied to have his case adjourned. Meanwhile, two defendants in the case have escaped from Hong Kong and the court has issued arrest warrants against them. As for Lai and 18 other people, the case was adjourned to June 11.

The June 4 anniversary struck an especially sensitive nerve in the former British colony last year, falling just as Beijing prepared to introduce new security legislation which punishes anything China sees as subversion, secession, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison.