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Online journalist jailed for 3 months for insulting national anthem by waving Hong Kong British flag during Olympics TV broadcast in shopping mall

An online journalist has been jailed for three months after pleading guilty to insult chinese national anthem waving the British Hong Kong flag during a screening at a mall of the Olympic gold medal ceremony for local fencer Edgar Cheung Ka-long last year.

The Kwun Tong court on Thursday registered the first conviction under the National Anthem Ordinance, which criminalizes insulting the “March of the Volunteers”. Critics said the legislation, which came into force in June 2020, is a hindrance to free speech.

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Paula Leung Yan-ling, 42, waves a colonial-era flag at the APM mall on July 26, 2021, when crowds gathered to watch Cheung’s medal ceremony after beating the Italian Daniele Garozzo during the men’s individual foil final at the Tokyo Games.

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What is the Hong Kong national anthem law?

Acting Chief Magistrate Amy Chan Wai-mun said the defendant seriously denigrated the national anthem and damaged the country’s dignity, adding that his conduct could arouse people’s feelings and cause conflict.

“The accused acted as a journalist. [This conviction] shows that journalists do not have a pass to break the law,” the magistrate said.

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