Portuguese member of “Hong Kong Independence Party” sentenced to 4.11 years for conspiracy to incite secessionist acts

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Wong Kin-chung

27th February 2024 – (Hong Kong) In a recent court hearing today, a Portuguese national residing in the United Kingdom has pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to incite acts of secession. The defendant, identified as Wong Kin-chung, a 41-year-old music teacher who previously worked in Hong Kong, was accused of being a key member involved in operating multiple social media platforms for the “Hong Kong Independence Party,” a political party previously registered in the U.K. Since 2019, Wong had allegedly published 42 posts advocating for Hong Kong independence, urging the presence of British and American troops in Hong Kong, and calling for the abolition of the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

Wong was apprehended during his visit to Hong Kong two years ago and subsequently charged with conspiring to incite others to commit acts of secession. During the court proceedings this morning, the judge postponed the sentencing to 11th April. The defence argued that the defendant had voluntarily provided his phone password, asserting that this cooperation should mitigate the severity of the case. However, the prosecutor countered by stating that Wong had played a deliberate role in fueling tensions in Hong Kong, suggesting that his intentions were malevolent.

The prosecution presented evidence that from 1st July, 2020, to 1st November, 2022, Wong conspired with others to organise, plan, and participate in activities aimed at secession and undermining national unity. The defence sought leniency by invoking Article 33 of the Hong Kong National Security Law, which allows for mitigating factors in sentencing. They argued that Wong’s voluntary disclosure of his phone password allowed law enforcement to access the contents and discover his connection to the “Hong Kong Independence Party’s” posts. However, the judge highlighted that in the recorded conversations, Wong distanced himself entirely from the party, raising doubts about the possibility of reducing his punishment.

Authorities first discovered multiple online platforms and social media channels, including websites, Facebook, Twitter (now referred to as X), and the messaging app Telegram, operating under the name of the “Hong Kong Independence Party” starting from November 2021. These platforms were found to disseminate a significant amount of secessionist propaganda, advocating for the separation of Hong Kong from China. The party claimed to have been established by Hong Kong expatriates in Europe in 2014 and registered as a political party in the U.K. the following year. Their objectives included supporting Hong Kong people’s pursuit of self-determination, assisting in nation-building, rejoining the Commonwealth, and urging the U.K. to terminate the Sino-British Joint Declaration. These platforms had hundreds to thousands of followers on average. At the time of the arrest, the party had posted a total of 42 articles promoting Hong Kong independence.

The posts outlined five main principles, such as declaring China’s illegal occupation of Hong Kong and urging the UK to enforce the Treaty of Nanjing, while also calling for the presence of British and American troops in Hong Kong. Additionally, the party organised specific activities, including demonstrations outside the Hong Kong consulate in the UK, claiming to have emailed mercenaries to dismantle the Hong Kong government’s authority and initiating crowdfunding efforts to finance the pursuit of Hong Kong independence. Upon Wong’s arrest in November 2022, he claimed to have managed the party’s online platforms on someone else’s behalf and professed ignorance of the post contents. However, forensic examination of his phone revealed links to the party’s Google account and access to multiple social media accounts associated with the party. Furthermore, his phone contained a business card identifying him as the party’s chairman.