HONG KONG • Hong Kong student leader Joshua Wong slammed police yesterday for what he called a "political prosecution" after he was charged over the protests that led to last year's mass pro-democracy street rallies.
Wong, 18, who became the face of the democracy movement, was already due in court today for separate charges of obstructing police at an earlier demonstration.
The teenager and other activists have accused the authorities of a witch-hunt against those at the forefront of the "Umbrella Movement", which brought parts of the city to a standstill for more than two months.
Protesters called for fully free elections of the city's next leader, in the face of a contentious Beijing-backed political reform package in which candidates would be vetted by a loyalist committee. That Bill was vetoed in June in an unprecedented rebuke to Beijing, leaving the city politically polarised.
Wong was charged yesterday with "unlawful assembly, and inciting others to take part in an unlawful assembly". The charges relate to a student protest on Sept 26 last year, during which some protesters broke into the compound of a government complex.
Wong and other activists were arrested, sparking wider demonstrations that grew after police fired tear gas to disperse the crowds.
Thousands more took to the streets in the wake of what they saw as heavy-handed policing.
"Today... is political prosecution," said Wong before he entered a police station yesterday in the central neighbourhood of Wan Chai.
"Being involved in the civic square action is the best mission I have undertaken in the four years I've been involved in social student movements," he said. "I will not regret it... even if I have to pay the price."