A 23-year-old man who has become the first person in Hong Kong charged under the city’s controversial new national security laws was denied bail on Monday.
Tong Ying-kit was arrested by police after he drove his motorcycle into a group of police officers during a demonstration on Wednesday when thousands took to the street to protest against the new laws against secession and terrorism coming into effect.
Video of the crash posted online appears to show officers on a small road attempting to stop Tong from driving around them. Instead, Tong simply drives into them, sending three officers flying while he is launched off his bike and onto the street where he is promptly surrounded by police with batons.
Tong’s defenders claim that the police were at fault for suddenly jumping in front of Tong’s motorcycle, noting that footage shows the road empty of officers just seconds before the crash.
On the back of his motorcycle, Tong flew a flag that read: “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times,” a popular protest slogan that the government now sees as violating the provisions against separatism and subversion under the new national security law passed in May by China’s rubber-stamp legislature, bypassing Hong Kong’s own parliament.
The arrest has ignited public outcry in Hong Kong and concern over the future of the freedom of expression in the former British colony. On Monday, dozens waited outside the court as Tong had his bail hearing.
Chief Magistrate Victor So Wai-tak denied Tong bail, citing an article in the new law stating that bail will not be granted if the judge has sufficient grounds to believe that the defendant will continue to “endanger national security.”
So is one of six magistrates who were handpicked by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to hear cases regarding national security.
Tong’s case has been postponed until October 6 so that evidence can be gathered, meaning that he will be kept in police custody for at least three months.