US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday called for the immediate release of 10 Hong Kong activists who were sentenced to between seven months and three years in jail by a Chinese court.
"The United States strongly condemns the Shenzhen court's actions and calls for the ten members of the group who were sentenced to jail terms to be immediately and unconditionally released," Pompeo said in a statement.
The group had all faced charges in Hong Kong over anti-government protests there, and they have been held virtually incommunicado in a mainland prison since their boat was intercepted by a mainland coastguard vessel on August 23 after leaving Hong Kong, allegedly en route to Taiwan.
Tang Kai-yin, who was said to be the leader of the group, was given a three-year jail term and fined 20,000 yuan.
Quinn Moon – the only female among the detainees – was sentenced to two years in prison and fined 15,000 yuan, for what the court said was her co-leading role in the case.
Eight other detainees, meanwhile, received seven-month jail terms and were fined 10,000 yuan.
The case has drawn international attention and concern over the defendants' treatment.
"Hong Kong was a thriving territory until the Chinese Communist Party and its local lackeys destroyed its rule of law and eviscerated the Hong Kong people's freedoms," Pompeo said.
"A regime that prevents its own people from leaving can lay no claim to greatness or global leadership. It is simply a fragile dictatorship, afraid of its own people," he added.
Separately, Hong Kong's top court remanded media and publishing tycoon Jimmy Lai, the most high-profile person to be charged under the national security law, in custody until another bail hearing on February 1. (Reuters)
Pompeo calls for release of 10 jailed HK activists
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