Pastor Alan Keung, founder of independent news outlet Free HK Media has been sentenced in Hong Kong to eight months in prison for promoting ‘seditious’ content.
Hong Kong's recently revived colonial-era sedition law prohibits the incitement of “hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection” against the government. Breaking this law can lead to a maximum penalty of two years in prison.
Together with the Beijing-imposed national security law, critics argue it is being used to prevent free speech and legitimate criticism of the administration.
In March, Pastor Keung, together with Alex Lee and Cannis Chan pleaded guilty to selling a ‘seditious’ book at a Lunar New Year fair.
According to the Hong Kong Free Press, six arrests were made after police officers posed as potential customers. The three were accused of conspiring to promote, sell or display for sale publications with seditious intention both on social media and at a market stall in Mong Kok. Police said the book promoted Hong Kong Independence and "incited others to overthrow the central authorities and Hong Kong’s government, use violence, and flout the law or any lawful orders.”
A court heard that the book accused Hong Kong police of condoning criminal activity, disregarding the law and sharing false information.
Chan, who received a prison sentence of ten months was named the “instigator” and “core offender” in the case after designing and producing the publication.
Lee, who owned the booth at Ginza Plaza was sentenced to five months in prison while Keung was handed an eight-month prison term for promoting the content on Facebook.
The court ruled that the book risked creating a resurgence in public unrest following the 2019 Hong Kong extradition bill protests, with content that “sympathised” with campaigners and protest slogans.
Amid the 2019 anti-government demonstrations, Keung, pastor of Christianity Mission in Hong Kong, was active in providing prayer and support to protestors.
He famously used saline to wash away tear gas from the eyes of protestors and helped those injured during the protests.
A further three people arrested in relation to the book have yet to be charged.