A former member of the group that organized the annual Tiananmen vigils in Hong Kong has been sentenced to three months in prison for refusing to comply with a national security data investigation.
Chan To-wai, a member of the dissolved Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, appeared Wednesday before Chief Magistrate Peter Law, one of Hong Kong’s handpicked national security judges.
Chan, a former member of the Alliance’s standing committee, pleaded guilty to failing to comply with a data investigation by the national security police on Tuesday.
Chan, who was 57 when he was indicted last September, was accused of refusing to comply with a notice delivered under the national security law imposed by Beijing last August, which required him and four other Alliance members to provide the information requested.
The other defendants in the case were former Alliance Vice President Chow Hang-tung and standing committee members Tang Ngok-kwan, Simon Leung and Tsui Hon-kwong.
Leung pleaded guilty to the charge last December and was sentenced to three months in jail.
‘A serious matter’
Law, announcing the sentence on Wednesday, said the crime was “a serious matter” as Chan, along with other members of the Alliance’s standing committee, “deliberately refused to provide information.”
The magistrate also said that the group “challenged the public force” by “publicly announcing that they would not comply with the notice outside the police headquarters.”
After the group received the notice, they met with the press outside police headquarters last September and said the request was “unfounded.”
The group also “defied the public interest,” Law said, as they had impeded a national security investigation.
The magistrate set a three-month sentence for Chan after deducting a third of the initial sentence for pleading guilty. Law said he saw “no other reason” for more deductions.
As Chan stepped onto the bench, he waved to people seated in the public gallery, where Leung and Chan Po-ying and Avery Ng of the pro-democracy party, the League of Social Democrats, sat.
The Alliance was a key player in Hong Kong civil society before its dissolution in September last year. He organized annual candlelight vigils every June 4 to call for democracy and commemorate the victims of Beijing’s bloody Tiananmen crackdown, where hundreds, perhaps thousands, are estimated to have died as the People’s Liberation Army cracked down on protesters in Beijing.
Some key members of the alliance, as well as the organization itself, face trial under national security legislation for alleged incitement to subversion.