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Three anti-government figures sentenced to jail in Hong Kong

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Joshua Wong (R) and Ivan Lam (L) arrive at the Lai Chi Kok Reception Center in Hong Kong, China, on December 2, 2020, after pleading guilty to inciting a rally during anti-government protests in 2019. (Photo by AFP)

Three anti-government figures in Hong Kong have been sentenced to prison for inciting violent rallies in the Chinese territory last year.

Twenty four-year-old Joshua Wong, 23-year-old Agnes Chow, and 26-year-old Ivan Lam were convicted on Wednesday over a protest that took place last summer outside Hong Kong's police headquarters.

The three pleaded guilty to various charges, including inciting an unlawful assembly, and were sentenced to three years in jail.

Wong has previously spent time in prison for leading protests.

In a post on Twitter on Wednesday, Wong vowed to keep campaigning against the government despite being jailed.

In May, Hong Kong's legislature debated and passed a bill criminalizing sedition, secession, and subversion against the mainland. The law drew harsh criticism from some Western governments, particularly the US and the UK, which claimed that the law dented the semi-autonomous status of the city.

Beijing, however, insisted that the new law did not pose a threat to Hong Kong's autonomy and the interests of foreign investors, noting that it was merely meant to prevent terrorism and foreign interference there, which were evident in the violent riots there last year.

Hong Kong had been rocked by turbulent protests since June last year, when the government of the semi-autonomous territory proposed a bill that would have reformed the city's extradition law. The bill was later withdrawn, but protests continued and took on violent forms.

More than 7,000 people have been taken into custody for their involvement in the protests since June last year, with many having been charged with rioting, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

The Chinese government says the United States and Britain fanned the flames of the unrest in Hong Kong by supporting the rioters.

Hong Kong has been governed under a “one-country, two-system” model since the city — a former British colony — was returned to China in 1997.

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