Joshua Wong: Student who led 2014 Hong Kong protests charged for 'engaging in illegal gatherings'

Wong tells reporters: 'I do not regret it. Even if I need to pay the price, go to court – and even to jail'

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The Independent Online

The student who became the face of Hong Kong’s massive pro-democracy movement last year has been charged over the protests which crippled the Chinese city.

18-year-old Joshua Wong took to Facebook to post police documents which say he has been charged with participating in, and inciting others, to engage in illegal gatherings.

As well as these two charges, he could also face more after a separate protest where authorities say he obstructed police.

Wong became synonymous with the mass 79-day long sit-in demonstration when he helped to lead more than 100,000 students through Hong Kong to march against proposed reforms to the city’s electoral system.

The students demanded open nominations for the election of the city’s next chief executive in 2017. China, which took back control of Hong Kong from the British in 1997, said it will allow a free vote – but only from pre-screened candidates.

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Wong (L) and Nathan Law (C) talk to the media outside the Wanchai police station in Hong Kong today (via PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Known to be one of the most densely-populated places in the world, the city was brought to a complete standstill as police became overwhelmed and retaliated with force in an attempt to restore order.

Speaking with reporters, Wong remained defiant in the role he played last September when the large crowd surrounded the public area around government headquarters.

He said: “Being involved in the action to take back Civic Square on 26 September was the best decision I have made in the four years I have been involved in the social movement and student movement.

“I do not regret it. Even if I need to pay the price, go to court – and even to jail.“

His lawyer, Michael Vidler, said Wong had not been formally arrested but “invited” to attend court over the coming week and added: “They decided not to arrest Joshua but simply charge him today.

 

“He's actually not on police bail – they’ve just invited him to attend court on 2 September.”

Speaking of his client’s situation, he said: “I must say, in the 20-odd years I’ve been in Hong Kong, I’ve never had a situation like this.”

Because of his role in the movement – also known as the Umbrella Revolution –Wong has been hailed as one of the most influential people of 2014 and Fortune Magazine listed him as being one of the world’s greatest leaders in March this year.

In May, though, Joshua was denied entry into Malaysia as he was considered a threat to the country’s ties with China – because of the ‘anti-China’ role he played last year.

Additional reporting courtesy of Reuters

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