Ten Hong Kong citizens who tried to flee the city by boat to take refuge in Taiwan have been sentenced to up to three years in prison for organizing and carrying out an illegal border crossing.
The activists, many of whom were either free on bail or had been charged for protests that took place in Hong Kong last year, were captured by the Chinese Coast Guard in August while trying to flee to Taiwan.
The two organizers were sentenced to 2 and 3 years in prison respectively, the other eight received 7-month sentences. All of them also face fines of between $1,000 and $3,000.
The other two passengers aboard the boat, being minors, were not convicted.
All 12 were detained for over 100 days before their trial in Shenzhen, China. According to a representative of the families, they were mistreated while in custody in China and were denied access to lawyers.
On Monday, a U.S. State Department spokeswoman called for Beijing to release the 12, and allow them to leave the country.
Several other high-profile activists including Nathan Law, Ted Hui, and Baggio Leung have left the city to seek refuge in exile abroad, while others have been arrested for the 2019 protests in Hong Kong.
On Tuesday, Tony Chung, another activist, was sentenced to four months in prison for unlawful assembly and flag vilification under the controversial new national security law.
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