HONG KONG • Democracy activists Joshua Wong and Nathan Law were released from prison yesterday, after Hong Kong's highest court granted them bail to appeal sentences handed down for their role in the 2014 Umbrella Movement.
Wong and Law were jailed in August for six and eight months, respectively, over their roles in the demonstrations calling for freer elections in the semi-autonomous Chinese city, which their supporters called political prosecution by the government.
A defiant Wong, 21, said the activists stood ready to face what he called "suppression by an authoritarian regime" as he stood alongside Law outside the Court of Final Appeal following the decision.
"The government can lock up our bodies, but they can't lock up our minds," he told reporters. "They cannot put aside our determination to fight for democracy."
Emerging from the courthouse in a neat white shirt and with his hair growing back after being shaved in prison, Wong said he planned to enjoy a meal with his family last night.
Law, 24, told reporters there had been "unpleasant times" behind bars. "I hope the result of the case showcases the protection of human rights in our law system," he said of the activists' appeal. "The world is watching."
Supporters outside punched the air at news of the pair's release. Lawmaker Eddie Chu said it was "encouraging news for supporters of democracy".
Granting the two men bail in a 10-minute hearing, Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma of the Court of Final Appeal said the possibility of an appeal was not "entirely hopeless".
Wong and Law were released on bail of HK50,000 (S$8,700). They were also ordered to surrender their travel documents and report to the police once a week. Their bail period ends on Nov 7.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NYTIMES