Hong Kong activist Agnes Chow denied bail after landmark sentencing

FILE PHOTO: Student activist Agnes Chow poses for photo ahead of her campaign to join Legislative Council by election, at Demosisto party's office in Hong Kong
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HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow was denied bail on Wednesday pending an appeal against her 10-month jail sentence on charges related to unauthorised assembly during anti-government protests last year.

The 24-year old activist was jailed on Dec. 2 along with Joshua Wong for their roles in an unlawful rally near police headquarters in 2019, the toughest and most high-profile sentencing of opposition figures this year.

Chow's hearing came after around 16 activists were arrested since Monday, part of a relentless crackdown on opposition forces in the Chinese-ruled city.

Critics say Hong Kong's Beijing-backed government is curtailing opposition and wide-ranging freedoms guaranteed after the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997, a charge authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong reject.

Chow, along with Wong and Nathan Law, founded the now-disbanded democracy group Demosisto in 2016. The party was dissolved hours after Beijing passed a contentious national security law for the city on June 30 amid fears it could be targeted under the legislation.

Chow was also arrested in August under the new security legislation on suspicion of “colluding with foreign forces,” but is yet to face any charges.

Under the national security law, Beijing punishes what it broadly defines as sedition, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in jail.

(Reporting by Aleksander Solum and Yoyo Chow; writing by Farah Master)

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