By LE Desk
Hong Kong, March 4: Fewer than a third of prominent pro-democracy activists charged under a new national security law were granted bail Thursday after a hearing at a Hong Kong court, CNN reported.
The 15 defendants included ex-lawmakers Kwok Ka-ki, Jeremy Tam and Helena Wong, chief magistrate Victor So said. All the remaining 32 defendants, including former law professor Benny Tai and activist Joshua Wong, have been remanded in custody until the next hearing on May 31.
The 47 defendants were charged on Sunday with subversion under the new national security law, which Beijing enacted unilaterally last summer. The case marks a sweeping escalation in the application of the law, which Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam had previously said would be limited in effect and only target a small number of fringe activists.
However, prosecutors immediately appealed the bail decisions, forcing the magistrate also to remand the 15 defendants in custody until an appeal hearing is made at the High Court within 48 hours.
In granting bail, chief magistrate Victor So said the defendants must not publish any speeches or commit any acts on any platforms that may reasonably be deemed as endangering national security. The 15 defendants are also not allowed to take part in any elections, with the exception of voting.
The defendants must not directly or indirectly contact any foreign officials or lawmakers, and must surrender all travel documents and obey a curfew order.
After the decision was announced, some of the defendants chanted “Hong Kong people, we are not dead yet” and “political prisoners are not guilty,” and thanked lawyers for their support.
According to Hong Kong laws, reporters are not permitted to disclose details of individual bail submissions. The magistrate has declined a request to grant an exemption in the hearing.
The prosecution has postponed the next hearing to May 31, after prosecutors said police would need more time to investigate the defendants’ mobile devices and financial records.
The bail decisions came after prosecutors and defense spent four full days debating whether each of the defendants should be granted bail.