HONG KONG (AP) — Prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong said Monday that he plans to plead guilty to charges related to a demonstration outside police headquarters during anti-government protests last year.
Ahead of a court hearing Monday, Wong said that he and fellow activist Ivan Lam would both plead guilty to organizing, taking part in and inciting protesters to join an unauthorized protest outside police headquarters in Wan Chai last June. Both Wong and Lam were members of the now-disbanded Demosisto political party.
“I am persuaded that neither prison bars, nor election ban, nor any other arbitrary powers would stop us from activism,” Wong said.
“What we are doing now is to explain the value of freedom to the world, through our compassion to whom we love, so much that we are willing to sacrifice the freedom of our own. I’m prepared for the thin chance of walking free.”
Those found guilty of taking part in an unlawful assembly could face as long as five years in prison depending on the severity of the offense.
Wong rose to prominence as a student leader during the 2014 Umbrella Movement pro-democracy protests and is among a growing number of activists being charged for various relatively minor offenses since Beijing in June imposed a sweeping national security law on the territory that has severely restricted political speech.
Pro-democracy supporters have said the legal charges are part of a campaign to harass and intimidate them.
Lam, who also spoke ahead of the court hearing, said he too was prepared to be jailed.
Wong wrote on his Facebook page on Sunday that he and Lam had decided to plead guilty after consulting with their lawyers. The two previously pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Another activist, Agnes Chow, has already pleaded guilty to charges of inciting others and taking part in the protest.
“If I am sentenced to prison this time, it will be the first time in my life that I have been in jail,” Chow wrote on her Facebook page on Sunday.
“Although I am mentally prepared, I still feel a little bit scared. However, compared to many friends, I have suffered very little. When I think of this, I will try my best to face it bravely,” she wrote.