Second Hongkonger charged under Article 23 law in a week over sedition offences

Hong Kong prosecutors have charged a second person in a week under the new domestic national security law, accusing a man of publishing seditious videos on social media to provoke hatred towards central and local authorities.

Au Kin-wai, 58, did not apply for bail when appearing at West Kowloon Court on Friday to face a count of “knowingly publishing publications that had a seditious intention” under the Safeguarding National Security Ordinance.

The court heard footage posted on Au’s social media accounts contained statements that called for the Chinese Communist Party, President Xi Jinping and Hong Kong leader John Lee Ka-chiu to “step down”. The videos also allegedly promoted a “revolution” against the central government.

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Prosecutor Vincent Lee Ting-wai asked for extra time for police to conduct further inquiries, including analysis of seven computers and mobile phones seized from Au’s home in Tuen Mun.

Principal Magistrate Don So Man-lung, one of the judges hand-picked by the city leader to adjudicate national security proceedings, scheduled the next hearing for August 7, when another sedition case brought under the law will also be heard.

The indictment said Au published a series of seditious statements and pictures on YouTube, Facebook and X – formerly Twitter – between March 23 and June 19 with intent to instigate “hatred, contempt or disaffection” against the country’s “fundamental system”, constitutional order and the authority of the city government, legislature and judiciary.

The offensive posts were also able to “incite any other person to do an act that does not comply with the law of [Hong Kong] or that does not obey an order issued under the law of [Hong Kong]”, the court heard.

The prosecution came a week after a 27-year-old man was charged with committing a seditious act for allegedly wearing an offensive T-shirt and mask in public. He was remanded in custody after a separate magistrate dismissed his bail application.

The ordinance was enacted earlier this year in accordance with Article 23 of the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution.

Sedition is punishable by up to seven years in jail under the law, and a maximum of 10 years if the act involves collusion with an “external force”, such as a foreign government or organisation or anyone representing it.

The offence previously carried a maximum jail sentence of three years under Sections 9 and 10 of the colonial-era Crimes Ordinance, which have since been repealed.

The domestic legislation, which was designed to complement the national security law imposed by Beijing in June 2020, also targets offences such as treason, insurrection, espionage and external interference, with penalties running up to life imprisonment.

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