Man charged under HK's security law pleads not guilty

The first person charged under the national security law in Hong Kong pleaded not guilty at the start of his trial on Wednesday.

24-year-old Tong Ying-kit was arrested hours after the national security law was enacted in Hong Kong on July 1st last year.

He's accused of terrorism and inciting secession after he drove his motorbike into officers at a rally while carrying a flag with a protest slogan.

If found guilty, he faces up to life in prison.

He is also charged with dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm, which can lead to up to seven years in prison.

Tong was denied bail and denied a trial by jury.

Hong Kong's Judiciary describes trial by jury as one of the most important features of the city's legal system.

Article 46 of the security law, drafted by Beijing, states three instances in which juries can be scrapped: protecting state secrets, cases involving foreign forces and protecting jurors' safety.

The Court of Appeal upheld the decision and said the reason he was denied a jury was a perceived threat to the personal safety of jurors and their family members.

His case is seen as a test of the government's claim that the slogan "Liberate Hong Kong! Revolution of our times" is secessionist.

Meanwhile, also on Wednesday police arrested a columnist for pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily.

The 55-year-old man, whose name was not disclosed by police, was arrested on suspicion of conspiring to collude with a foreign country or foreign forces.

That's after police froze assets linked to Apple Daily, and arrested five executives. The newspaper said it will print its last edition on Thursday.

Human rights groups and Western governments have expressed concern over press freedom and other rights in the Chinese-ruled city.

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