Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong and other Umbrella Revolution leaders jailed

(L to R) Joshua Wong, 19, Nathan Law, 23, and Alex Chow, 25. (Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images)

(L to R) Joshua Wong, 19, Nathan Law, 23, and Alex Chow, 25. (Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images)

In August 2017, the figurehead of Hong Kong’s democracy movement, Joshua Wong, was jailed for his role in the 2014 protests known as the Umbrella Revolution.

Wong was sentenced to six months in prison for illegal assembly. Two fellow protest leaders, Nathan Law and Alex Chow, were given eight and seven months respectively.

The three activists were originally sentenced to community service and a suspended jail term. In explaining why the sentencing avoided deterrent punishment, a lower court cited the three protest leaders’ “genuine wish to express their political ideals and concerns for society.”

But prosecutors argued that lenient sentences would send the wrong message, and successfully brought the case to an appeals court.

Under Hong Kong law, the prison sentences make the three activists ineligible to run for public office for five years.

The Hong Kong Department of Justice defended its appeal for tougher sentencing as its legal right, saying the three protest leaders “were convicted not because they exercised their civil liberties, but because their conduct during the protest contravened the law.”

But according to Joshua Wong, “The government wanted to stop us from running in elections, and directly suppress our movement. There’s no longer rule of law in Hong Kong, it’s rule by law.”

All three protest leaders intend to appeal their sentences.

In late October 2017, Joshua Wong and Nathan Law were released on bail pending a final appeal of their sentences. The two will next appear in court at an appeal hearing on November 7.

Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma, who heads the territory’s Court of Final Appeal, said he was “not prepared” to call the possibility of an appeal “entirely hopeless.”