In Brief

Hong Kong 'umbrella movement' leaders jailed

Court sentences three activists responsible for 2014 pro-democracy protests

Three leaders of Hong Kong's 'Umbrella Revolution' have been jailed by a court, three years after they helped organise the largest pro-democracy protests ever held in the city.

Joshua Wong, who was just 17 at the time and was dubbed the "face of protest" by Time Magazine in 2014, was sentenced to eight months in prison for unlawful assembly. Fellow defendants Nathan Law and Alex Chow were handed terms of ten months.

Reporting from the court, CNN said the verdicts, which also prohibit the three from running for public office for five years, were met with cries of "shame" and "political persecution" by their supporters.

The case marks "a dramatic turnaround" from 2014, says the news network, when the trio helped bring out hundreds of thousands of people to the streets to call for a more direct form of democracy in the former British colony.

Despite record turnout at last September's legislative elections, which returned many localist politicians who support greater self-determination, the past three years have been filled with frustration and disappointment for Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement.

Since the turn of the year, Chinese authorities have sought to assert greater control over the city. The pro-China Hong Kong government has moved to disqualify two pro-independence politicians from office and Beijing has effectively outlawed any criticism of China by the city's elected representatives.

This appears to have had the desired effect: mass protests expected to accompany June's visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping failed to materialise.

However, support for the movement has remained remarkably resilient, especially on social media, despite the crackdown.

Earlier this week, an editorial in the New York Times warned that jailing the three men would create Hong Kong's first "political prisoners" and a new generation of activists. The trial of Wong and his fellow protesters "was yet another sign that Beijing had little intention to honor its commitment to free speech and peaceful assembly", it said.

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