An administrator of a Telegram group was jailed for six months on Tuesday for calling on people to join unauthorised assemblies and to disrupt traffic on Hong Kong Island.
Lee Shing-hei, who worked in telecommunications, forwarded messages to the group in November 2021, urging people to gather and drive slowly in protest against the government's anti-epidemic measures.
He pleaded guilty at Kowloon City Magistrates’ Court last month to inciting others to knowingly take part in unauthorised assemblies and to cause obstruction of public places.
In mitigation, the defence said Lee had taken the initiative to cancel the assemblies and there was no evidence that the Telegram group had been influential.
It also said the defendant understood an immediate prison term was unavoidable but urged leniency, noting Lee's remorse and that he takes care of his wife who uses a wheelchair.
Passing sentence, Magistrate Andrew Mok said even though no one had heeded the calls to gather, Lee’s actions constituted incitement.
Mok said the defendant had told anyone who wanted to take part in the protests to pay in cash on public transport to avoid being caught by the police, which showed that the assemblies were planned and premeditated.
The magistrate added that the defendant should have recognised how powerful information circulating online can be, given his background in telecommunications.
Lee was given a six-month prison term for the unauthorised assemblies charge and six weeks for the call to disrupt traffic, with the sentences to be served concurrently.