Hong Kong clerk remanded in custody pending trial after national security police accuse him of importing seditious children’s books

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Hong Kong clerk remanded in custody pending trial after national security police accuse him of importing seditious children’s books - Informative Updates™

A 38-year-old clerk has been remanded in custody pending a trial for alleged sedition after Hong Kong national security police accused him of importing children’s books they say can instigate hatred towards authorities.

Finance worker Kurt Leung Kui-ming appeared at West Kowloon Court on Wednesday, making his case the first to involve the offence of “importing any seditious publication” under the Crimes Ordinance since Beijing imposed the national security law on the city in 2020.

Five people have already been jailed over their roles in publishing and distributing the books, which a judge has found contain provocative depictions of mainland China.

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Leung appeared before Chief Magistrate Victor So Wai-tak, who was approved by Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu to hear such cases. So denied him bail on national security grounds.

He is expected to return to court in early October.

Leung was arrested on March 13 this year after allegedly collecting a parcel that had been delivered from the United Kingdom containing three sets of the six-title picture book series, the court heard.

Prosecutor Vincent Lee Ting-wai said his team was ready to hear the defendant’s plea, but defence lawyers asked for a month to examine the prosecution’s evidence and give legal advice to their client.

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The now-defunct General Union of Hong Kong Speech Therapists published the first three titles, with the remaining three purportedly produced by a group of overseas educators from the city.

Five former executive members of the union have been jailed for 19 months each for their roles in publishing and distributing the books. They have all completed their sentences but their appeal is still pending.

The book series portrayed a village of sheep defending their home from a group of invading wolves following the departure of a shepherd.

A District Court judge in that case found the publications contained clear insinuations that Beijing had ruined Hongkongers’ “happy life” after Britain handed over the city to China in 1997.

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Sedition is punishable by up to two years’ imprisonment for a first conviction. It is not among the offences criminalised by the national security law, but it has been recognised by the Court of Final Appeal as capable of endangering the safety of the country.

The Crimes Ordinance states a person cannot be convicted of importing seditious publications if they have no reason to believe the articles are offensive.

Prosecutors are entitled to request that sedition cases be heard only by judges picked by the chief executive, and defendants can face higher hurdles in obtaining bail.

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