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Hong Kong: Giggs sentencing highlights authorities’ expanding armoury in crackdown on critics 

Responding to the prison sentence of two years and eight months handed to Hong Kong online radio DJ and political commentator Edmund Wan, better known as “Giggs”, after his conviction for sedition and money laundering, Amnesty International’s China Campaigner Gwen Lee said: 

“With this reprehensible jailing of a DJ who dared to speak his mind and finance young protestors’ education, the Hong Kong authorities appear to be expanding the range of tools they use to target people whose views and actions they object to.  

“In addition to becoming the latest government critic imprisoned on a colonial-era ‘sedition’ charge, Edmund Wan has also been convicted of money laundering despite the prosecution providing scant evidence against him. 

“Activists in Hong Kong no longer only fear the draconian National Security Law; increasingly, they are also being targeted with a range of other charges that can be abused to punish them. 

“Deprived of a jury and facing a curtailed legal aid system – within a judicial system increasingly tilting against the accused in ‘national security’ cases – Edmund Wan’s ability to defend himself has been severely compromised – just as it is for Hong Kong’s many other activists.  

“Wan was an outspoken critic of the government on his radio shows and helped set up an education fund for youths who had fled Hong Kong for Taiwan. Today he has been sentenced in connection with both these things.  

“Given the Hong Kong government’s zero-tolerance approach to dissent since 2019, it is difficult to believe that his imprisonment is anything other than politically motivated. The authorities must release Edmund Wan and drop all charges against him unless they demonstrate sufficient credible and admissible evidence that he has committed a criminal offence.”  

Background 

Edmund Wan, or “Giggs”, was today sentenced to two years and eight months on charges of seditious intention and money laundering. 

Prior to his arrest, Wan was the host of four shows on an independent online radio station in Hong Kong. He was often critical of the Hong Kong and Chinese central authorities. 

In February 2020, he started a fundraiser for sponsoring the education of a group of Hong Kong youths who had fled for Taiwan as the Hong Kong government arrested tens of thousands of young people who took part in the city’s 2019 mass protests.  

On 21 November 2020, Wan was arrested under the Hong Kong National Security Law. On 8 February 2021, Wan was instead officially charged with four counts of “acts with a seditious intention” under colonial era sedition laws. He was then charged on 10 May 2021 with an additional five counts of money-laundering and one count of “conspiring to commit an act with a seditious intention”. The “seditious intention” charges concerned his criticism of the Hong Kong Chief Executive and the Chinese Communist Party on his online radio shows and posts. He has been detained for over 18 months. 

In May 2022, the prosecution reached a plea deal with Wan, under which six of the 10 charges he was facing would not be prosecuted now, but kept on file if he pleaded guilty to the remaining charges and agreed to the prosecution’s application to confiscate the proceeds of his crowdfunding project.  

Since 2020, the Hong Kong government has been using colonial-era sedition charges to stamp out dissent. People charged with sedition have faced some of the same draconian measures as those targeted under the National Security Law, which came into force on 30 June 2020.  

In July this year, the United Nations Human Rights Committee expressed concern about the Hong Kong government’s use of colonial-era sedition charges to target people for exercising their right to freedom of expression. It called for the repeal of sedition offences and to end their use to suppress criticism or dissent.