Hong Kong student leader Joshua Wong charged over protests
Hong Kong student leader Joshua Wong slammed police today for what he called a "political prosecution" after he was charged over protests which led to last year's mass pro-democracy street rallies.
Hong Kong: Hong Kong student leader Joshua Wong slammed police today for what he called a "political prosecution" after he was charged over protests which led to last year's mass pro-democracy street rallies.
Wong, 18, who became the face of the democracy movement, is already due in court tomorrow for separate charges of obstructing police at an earlier demonstration.
The teenager and other activists have accused the authorities of a witch hunt against those at the forefront of the Umbrella Movement that brought parts of the city to a standstill for more than two months.
Protesters called for fully free elections of the city's next leader, in the face of a contentious Beijing-backed political reform package in which candidates would have been vetted by a loyalist committee.
That bill was vetoed in June in an unprecedented rebuke to Beijing, leaving the city politically polarised.
Wong was charged today with "unlawful assembly, and inciting others to take part in an unlawful assembly".
The charges relate to a student protest on September 26 last year during which some climbed into a square which is part of the city government complex.
Wong and other activists were arrested, sparking wider demonstrations which exploded two days later when police fired tear gas to disperse the crowds.
Thousands more took to the streets in the wake of what they saw as heavy-handed policing.
"Today... Is political prosecution," said Wong before he entered a police station today in the central neighbourhood of Wan Chai.
"Being involved in the civic square action is the best mission I have made in the four years I've been involved in social student movements," he said.
"I will not regret it... Even if I have to pay the price."
When they emerged less than two hours later, Wong's lawyer Michael Vidler confirmed the teen had been charged.
"I think the whole rationale for proceeding at this stage, a year after the event, is totally flawed," Vidler said.
"In my view it's a clear abuse of process."
Prominent student protester Alex Chow was also charged today with taking part in an unlawful assembly.
Student leader Nathan Law was charged with inciting others to take part in an unlawful assembly.
Around 40 supporters outside the police station held up yellow umbrellas - symbol of the democracy movement - and shouted "CY step down!" referring to the city's unpopular leader Leung Chung-ying.
Wong and Law, 22, were brought to court last month on separate charges of obstructing police at an earlier protest in June 2014. (AFP)