Nine pro-democracy activists were convicted of public harassment for their involvement in mass rallies demanding greater autonomy from China.
Among them are three prominent activists who are seen as faces of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.
They could be imprisoned for up to seven years for their involvement in the "Umbrella" protests in 201
Thousands marched and demanded the right that Hong Kong should choose its own leader.
The convicts include the "Occupy." Trio ", consisting of sociology professor Chan Kin-man (59), law professor Benny Tai (54) and Baptist minister Chu Yiu-ming (74).
" No matter what happens today … we will survive Mr. Tai stayed with the reporters before the verdict.
Mr. Tai and Mr. Chan were both convicted, according to local media, of conspiring to incite public harassment and to incite others to make public harassment. 19659007] Mr. Chu was convicted of public harassment conspiracy.
On Thursday, a large crowd gathered outside the court to back the nine activists.
Human rights groups criticized the verdict, Human Rights Watch said send a "terrible message."
[This] will probably encourage the government to persecute more peaceful activists, which the Freedom of expression in Hong Kong continues to be troubling, "researcher Maya Wang said in a statement to the BBC.
What were the protests about?
The protests started in response to a decision by China to allow direct elections in 2017, but only from a pre-approved Beijing list of candidates.
Beijing very sensitive about the status of Hong Kong and about demands for more autonomy from China.
The former British colony was returned in 1997, provided that it would retain "a high level of autonomy for 50 years, except in foreign and defense affairs".
Many people in Hong Kong believe that they should have the right to choose their own leader.
In 2014, the three activists called for non-violent civil disobedience with student protests and plunged into massive demonstrations.
Tens of thousands of people camped on the streets demanding the right to free leadership.
The protests became known as the "Umbrella Movement" after people used umbrellas to protect themselves from tear gas fired by the police to disperse the crowd.
The demonstrators accused the Chinese government of breaking their promise to allow full democracy in Hong Kong and to infiltrate the region more and more.
But the number of demonstrators dwindled to a few hundred as the weeks dragged on and they ultimately did not reach their destination.