HONG KONG - A top opposition leader jailed on public disorder charges was released on bail on Thursday (Aug 15), the Associated Press reported, as Hong Kong's government attempts to quell a protest movement that has paralysed parts of the territory, including its international airport, and led to hundreds of arrests.
Benny Tai was sentenced to 16 months' jail as one of nine leaders of a 2014 drive for universal suffrage known as the Umbrella Movement. He was released pending an appeal against his conviction and allowed to return home on US$12,755 (S$17,700) cash bail, but was barred from leaving Hong Kong.
The 2014 movement fizzled, its demands unmet and leaders arrested.
However, it laid the groundwork for the new protest movement that escalated in June with mass opposition to extradition legislation and has since encompassed more sweeping democratic demands, Associated Press reported.
Speaking to the media after being granted bail on Thursday, Tai said he is certain that Hong Kong can get through the current difficult time, as there are many Hong Kong people who love the city and are willing to do things for it, reported broadcaster RTHK.
When asked to comment on the violence of the ongoing protests, Tai said he needs more information before talking about it, RTHK said.
Tai also said that he would like to spend time with his family first before deciding what to do next, according to RTHK.
Hong Kong has been mired in a summer of protests against a controversial extradition Bill, which if passed, would allow for fugitives to be transferred to several jurisdictions, including mainland China.
While the Bill has since been indefinitely suspended, protests have evolved to calling for political reform, and demonstrations have resulted in increasingly violent clashes with the police.