Asia-Pacific

Hundreds of Hong Kong protesters gather to demand activist Edward Leung's release

Supporters surround a police bus carrying political activist Edward Leung. Source: AP

Protesters have gathered at Hong Kong's High Court for the appeal of Edward Leung, who was sentenced to six years jail for his part in a clash with police.

Hundreds of masked protesters yelling "Revolution Now!" have crammed the footpath in front of Hong Kong's High Court and spilt onto the street in a show of support for an activist appealing a six-year prison sentence for his part in a violent night-long clash with police.

As a prison service bus with mesh-covered windows drove Edward Leung away after the hearing on Wednesday, supporters pressed up against the vehicle, briefly blocking traffic, and held five fingers up in their air.

That symbolises the five demands of Hong Kong's latest protest movement for universal suffrage, amnesty for arrested demonstrators and other wishes.

A sticker featuring a picture of Hong Kong activist Edward Leung with Chinese words which read "Liberate Hong Kong".
A sticker featuring a picture of Hong Kong activist Edward Leung with Chinese words which read "Liberate Hong Kong".
AP

The fate of his appeal was not immediately clear.

Leung emerged as one of the figureheads of protest in Hong Kong after 2014's failed nonviolent demonstrations over Beijing's decision to restrict elections.

Hong Kong Jailed activist Edward Leung, right, is escorted by Correctional Services officers in a prison van as he arrives high court for his sentence appeal.
Hong Kong Jailed activist Edward Leung, right, is escorted by Correctional Services officers in a prison van as he arrives high court for his sentence appeal.
AP

Among supporters who gathered outside the hearing was Kenny Lee, 23, who said Leung "has inspired a lot of Hong Kong people, especially our young people".

Even jailed, Leung's activism still resonates as Hong Kong is again gripped by protests that started in June and have snowballed.

"He started spreading his idea a few years ago but at that time, not many people really understood him and some even criticised him," said J Sze, a supporter in her 20s.

A woman wearing a Guy Fawkes mask stands with other protesters.
A woman wearing a Guy Fawkes mask stands with other protesters.
EPA

"Now, some people start to agree with his idea, maybe a little bit late," she said.

Leung has been an advocate of independence for Hong Kong, which reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

He was sentenced in June 2018 for his role in a Feb 2016 outbreak of violence in the city's working-class Mong Kok district.

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