The High Court on Wednesday rejected an appeal by a university student against his five-year prison term for inciting secession.
Lui Sai-yu was jailed in April after he pleaded guilty to the national security offence.
The trial judge adopted a starting point of five years and six months and reduced the term because of Lui’s guilty plea.
The prosecution said Lui was one of two administrators of a Telegram channel which posted seditious messages and incited hatred against China and Hong Kong, the central government, and the police.
The channel also carried posts advertising the sale of items to be used at protests.
In an appeal against the sentence, Lui’s lawyer said the trial judge was wrong to class the crime as serious and should have knocked a third off the prison term due to the admission of guilt.
But the Court of Appeal said in a written ruling that the trial judge had correctly classified the case, noting also that the national security law states that offences of a serious nature call for a prison sentence of between five and 10 years.
A three-judge panel also ruled that a guilty plea is not a mitigation factor that can be applied under the national security law to reduce a prison term below the minimum punishment set out.