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Hong Kong: Actor Gregory Wong among 12 jailed over 2019 protest

Hong Kong actor Gregory Wong
Gregory Wong was sentenced to just over six years in prison

Hong Kong actor Gregory Wong and 11 other people have been jailed for their role in the storming of the city's legislature during protests in 2019.

Wong was jailed for just over six years - one of the longer sentences handed down by the district court on Saturday.

Activists Ventus Lau and Owen Chow were also among those given prison terms linked to the pro-democracy protest.

Meanwhile, two journalists were fined for illegally entering the Legislative Council chamber at the time.

Most of the defendants were found guilty of rioting.

The incident happened in July 2019 and was seen as a key moment in the pro-democracy protests that erupted over a controversial law allowing the extradition of people to mainland China.

Hundreds of protesters entered the building, spray-painting messages on the walls and carrying supplies for those occupying the premises.

Extensive damage was done to the building, with portraits of political leaders torn from the walls and furniture smashed.

Judge Li Chi-ho on Saturday said that, as well as physical damage, the storming had caused "long-lasting" social effects.

"Aside from the actual damage to the building, it had a symbolic meaning... [which was] challenging the Hong Kong government and even weakening its governance," Mr Li said, according to the AFP news agency.

The protests led to the introduction of a tough national security law that made illegal a wider range of dissenting acts and reduced the city's autonomy. The law allows for China to have jurisdiction over Hong Kong national security cases in some circumstances.

Beijing, which imposed the law on Hong Kong, and the city's authorities argue the law is necessary to maintain stability and deny it has weakened autonomy.

It is thought that more than 100 people have been arrested under the 2020 Beijing-imposed legislation.

Hong Kong, a former British colony, was handed back to China in 1997 under the principle of "one country, two systems". Critics accuse the Chinese Communist Party of violating the agreement to give the city a high degree of autonomy and to preserve its economic and social systems.

Protesters break into the Legislative Council Complex in July 2019
Hundreds of protesters broke into the Legislative Council building in July 2019

UPDATE: This article was updated to clarify details about Hong Kong's national security law.