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Hong Kong Independence Activist Released from Prison

Supporters of jailed activist Edward Leung, gather outside the High Court as Leung appeals against a conviction and sentence, in Hong Kong, China Oct. 9, 2019. Text on flag reads, "Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our times."

Prominent Hong Kong independence activist Edward Leung was released from jail Wednesday after serving a four year sentence for taking part in a 2016 protest.

The 30-year-old activist posted a message on his Facebook page that he was released from Shek Pik Prison before dawn and was home with his family.

“After four years, I want to cherish this precious time to reunite with my family and resume a normal life with them,” he wrote while also expressing his thanks to his supporters for their concern and love.

Leung first came to prominence in 2016 as the spokesman of Hong Kong Indigenous, a group that called for maintaining a distinct identity for Hong Kong and a total break from mainland China. He took part in the so-called Fishball Revolution protest against a police crackdown on unlicensed street food vendors in the city’s Mong Kok district that turned violent.

Leung was convicted in 2018 of assaulting a police officer and taking part in a riot in connection with the Mong Kok incident and sentenced to six years in prison. Local news outlets say the sentence was reduced by two years for good behavior.

He coined the slogan “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of our Times” for his campaign for a seat in the city’s legislature in 2016 that was cut short when he was disqualified due to his pro-independence stance. The slogan has since been outlawed under the draconian national security law imposed by Beijing in 2020 in response to the massive and violent protests the previous year.

Hundreds of pro-democracy activists have been convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms under the law, which outlaws succession, subversion, terrorism and foreign collusion.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France-Presse.