HONG KONG (AFP): A Hong Kong internet radio host was jailed on Friday (Oct 7) after being convicted for "seditious" comments opposing Chinese rule, calling for the city's independence and the toppling of its government.
Beijing has carried out a sweeping political crackdown in Hong Kong after the Chinese finance hub saw huge and sometimes violent pro-democracy protests three years ago.
Edmund Wan (pic) -- better known by his DJ name "Giggs" -- was sentenced to two years and eight months in jail after pleading guilty to one count of "conspiracy to do acts with a seditious intention" and three counts of money laundering.
District Judge Adriana Noelle Tse Ching described the 54-year-old's case as "very serious" because his words added "fuel to the fire" at a time when Hong Kong was facing widespread social unrest.
Wan was "clearly flouting the law" as some of the 39 shows cited by prosecutors aired after a Beijing-imposed national security law was enacted, the judge added.
The security legislation, combined with a colonial-era sedition law, has been used to criminalise much dissent in Hong Kong since the 2019 protests.
In a show in 2020, Wan cited the ousting of former Ukraine leader Viktor Yanukovych and said Hong Kongers should also "expel" then leader Carrie Lam.
Another show accused the Chinese Communist Party of "cultural extermination" against minorities and said its national flag stood for authoritarianism.
Wan used his shows to call for donations to support young Hong Kongers who had fled to nearby Taiwan.
Prosecutors pursued money laundering charges, saying Wan's bank accounts received funds for unclear reasons, totalling more than HK$10 million ($1.3 million), that were "completely disproportionate" to his income.
In mitigation defence lawyers argued that Wan was not a public figure seeking political gain and his show had low viewing counts on platforms such as YouTube.
Wan was first arrested in November 2020 and has been held in custody since February last year. He was just the second person to be arrested over sedition since Hong Kong's 1997 handover from Britain to China.