Former Hong Kong Cantopop star Tommy Yuen jailed for sedition
HONG KONG—A Hong Kong singer turned democracy activist was jailed for more than two years on Thursday, Aug. 31, after pleading guilty to sedition and money laundering.
Tommy Yuen, a former member of the Cantopop boyband “E-Kids,” became an outspoken supporter of the Chinese city’s democracy protests in 2019, before Beijing cracked down on the movement and imposed a national security law.
Authorities have also recently used the long-dormant offense of sedition, created under British colonial rule, to jail protesters and activists.
Judge Ernest Lin said Thursday Yuen caused “harm to society” by harnessing his popularity to spread anti-government messages, and sentenced him to 26 months in prison.
Yuen, 43, was arrested in February 2022 and has been remanded in custody since. He pleaded guilty last month.
In his ruling, the judge slammed Yuen for “fanning the flames” of public discontent with his social media posts, which he also used for self-promotion and profit.
Yuen’s posts included messages celebrating the death of a police officer and lampooning a magistrate who handled national security cases, the judge said.
Yuen was also accused of working with his wife to invent the story of a 19-year-old female protester facing rioting charges to gain sympathy and solicit donations.
Prosecutors earlier said Yuen had laundered nearly HK$720,000 ($92,000) as part of his fake charity appeal.
Since 2020, more than 30 people have been charged with sedition, many of whom were not high-profile public figures.
The law covers acts, speech or publications deemed to have any “seditious intentions,” which include raising “discontent or disaffection,” promoting “feelings of ill-will” and inciting violence.
The offense carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail.
The United Nations Human Rights Committee has raised concerns about the “overly broad interpretation and arbitrary application” of the sedition offence and the Beijing-imposed security law.
Hong Kong officials have defended the law as necessary to restore order and stability after the 2019 unrest. /ra