Activist Joshua Wong ready to return to prison after guilty plea in Hong Kong protests trial

Erin Hale
Pro-democracy activists Ivan Lam, Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow arrive at the West Kowloon Magistrates' Courts - Reuters
Pro-democracy activists Ivan Lam, Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow arrive at the West Kowloon Magistrates' Courts - Reuters

Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong, 24, will likely return to prison after he and others pleaded guilty on Monday to inciting and organising an “unauthorised assembly” last year outside the city’s police headquarters.  

“The authorities wish me to stay in prison but I’m persuaded that neither prison bars nor election bans nor other arbitrary power will stop us from activism,” Wong told the media before heading into court on Monday.  

“What we are doing now is to express the value of freedom to the world through our compassion to whom we love, so much that we are willing to sacrifice the freedom of our own. I’m prepared for the slim chance for walking free.”  

The protest in question took place on June 21, 2019, at the very beginning of Hong Kong’s turbulent summer of democracy protests.  

The incident saw hundreds of protesters surround the police headquarters that day and call for accountability after police used tear gas and accused them of earlier organising a riot.   

Wong stood trial alongside activists Ivan Lam, 26, and Agnes Chow, 23, who both pleaded guilty to charges of incitement. Chow also pleaded guilty to knowingly taking part in an unauthorised assembly.  

Prosecutors played several video clips showing the trio was present outside police headquarters on June 2 where they could be seen chanting slogans at officers inside.

One clip showed Wong encouraging others to “besiege the police headquarters” as a pressure tactic.

The group was remanded into custody on Monday following their plea and will remain there until they are sentenced on December 2.    

The three first rose to prominence as young leaders of Hong Kong’s 2014 Umbrella Movement.  

While serving less direct leadership roles during 2019’s democracy protests, Wong and Chow are particularly well-known overseas.

They have both lobbied the UK and US governments to take more decisive action against Beijing’s actions in Hong Kong.  

Lam previously served 13 months in prison for his political activities while Wong has served 8 months. Monday’s trial marks the first time Chow may face a lengthy prison term.