Why it matters: The 24-year-old Tong is the first person convicted under the sweeping law, which China imposed last year to help crack down on massive protests that erupted in mid-2019.
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Tong was arrested and charged after driving his motorcycle into a group of police officers at a July 1, 2020, rally. He allegedly carried a flag that read the banned slogan, “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times."
The judges ruled that Tong sought to intimidate the government and public, saying that carrying the flag was an act of incitement to secession.
The prosecution requested that Tong's sentence, which carried a maximum of life in prison, be three years.
What they're saying: Human rights activists say the security law infringes on legitimate dissent.
Tong’s sentence is a "hammer blow to free speech" and shows the law is "a tool to instill terror" in government critics, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific regional director, Yamini Mishra, told AP.
The U.S. government criticized the "unjust outcome" of Tong’s trial and said the security law was used "as a political weapon to silence dissenting voices," per AP.
The U.S. called on Beijing to "stop targeting individuals exercising their rights and freedoms."
Chinese officials reject the criticism and say Beijing is restoring order, per AP.
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