Wong and Law were initially handed community service terms, while Chow was given a suspended jail term, in 2016. The court concluded that the magistrate's sentences were not in fact manifestly inadequate, since "there was no appellate court guidance requiring an immediate custodial sentence for a case of this nature" at the time of the sentences and because "a community service order was a sentence frequently passed in respect of unlawful assemblies" such as the one in question here. However, last year, a court overturned their sentences after prosecutors argued they were too light for the alleged gravity of the crimes committed by the activists.
The five-member Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal [official website] on Tuesday unanimously reversed [judgment] the August 2017 order sentencing the pro-democracy 2014 Umbrella Movement protesters Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow, quashing their sentences and setting them free.
The successful appeal was seen as a major victory for the trio, who last week were nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
Chow said the refusal of governments in Hong Kong and Beijing to allow the people of Hong Kong genuine universal suffrage and attempts to use a fake consultation to fool the public were acts of violence in themselves. The "one country, two systems" deal was negotiated as the United Kingdom handed its former territory to China in 1997. They served two months in jail before being bailed in November.
"At this critical juncture, we need to join hands with the global community and together defend Hong Kong as a bridgehead for democratic movements". He added that the protestors had wanted to engage with the Hong Kong government to develop constructive ideas about the city's political reform.
Mr Wong became the global face of the 2014 protests, which were sparked by Beijing's insistence on vetting candidates for the election of the city's leader. Its content was created separately to USA TODAY.