Three prominent pro-democracy activists were taken into custody Monday in Hong Kong after pleading guilty to charges related to a protest outside a police headquarters last June.
Joshua Wong and fellow members of the now-disbanded Demosisto political party, Ivan Lam, and Agnes Chow, all in their twenties, took the guilty plea at the advice of their lawyers.
They did not plead guilty to a third charge of knowingly participating in the unauthorized protest after the prosecution did not present any evidence for it.
The trio could be sentenced to up to five years in prison at the next trial session scheduled for December 2.
“I am persuaded that neither prison bars, nor election ban, nor any other arbitrary powers would stop us from activism,” Wong said before entering the courtroom on Monday.
“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.”
Pro-democracy supporters have maintained that the legal charges against Hong Kong activists are politically motivated and part of a harassment and intimidation campaign.
In July, Wong and 11 other pro-democracy candidates were barred from running for the city’s legislature in an election held in September. An unofficial primary held in July showed anti- Beijing candidates including Wong winning the polls.
Along with many other activists, Wong has been targeted and charged by Hong Kong authorities for organizing protests since Beijing imposed a national security law on the territory in June that has severely curtailed political speech.
Wong has been engaged in the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement since 2014, when he was a university student.