Protest slogans rang out as about 1,000 people gathered outside a Hong Kong court on Monday for the hearing of 47 democracy activists charged with conspiracy to commit subversion, amid an intensifying crackdown on the opposition by authorities.
Security was tight, with more than 100 police officers deployed outside the West Kowloon court, in the largest rally this year despite social-distancing rules to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Supporters flashed three-finger salutes, while police held up banners warning the crowd against illegal assembly and violating the national security law.
The activists are accused of organizing and participating in an unofficial primary poll last July aimed at selecting the strongest candidates for a legislative council election that the government later postponed, citing the coronavirus.
The activists – 39 men and eight women, ages 23-64 – were charged on Sunday under the national security law, which punishes what China broadly defines as secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison.
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