Hong Kong is reportedly charging 44 protesters detained during recent unrest with rioting, following Beijing's labelling of demonstrators behaviour as criminal.
Hong Kong plans to crackdown on protesters detained during recent violent clashes, according to a senior police source.
Authorities will charge 44 protesters with rioting, a charge that carries up to ten years in jail, the police source told AFP on condition of anonymity.
"We are in the process of charging them. A formal press statement will be issued later tonight," according to the source.
Hong Kong has been hit by weeks of mass protest marches - some of which have ended in violence - triggered by a controversial bill which would have allowed extraditions to mainland China.
They have evolved into calls for wider democratic reforms and a halt to sliding freedoms.
Beijing has issued increasingly shrill condemnations of the protests, but has left it to the city's government to deal with the situation.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has shown no sign of backing down beyond agreeing to suspend the extradition bill.