Several hundred masked protesters have gathered at Hong Kong’s High Court for the appeal hearing of an activist sentenced to six years in prison for his part in a violent nightlong clash with police.
As a prison service bus drove Edward Leung away after the hearing, supporters pressed up against the vehicle, briefly blocking traffic, and held five fingers up in their air.
That symbolises the five demands of Hong Kong’s protest movement for direct elections, amnesty for arrested demonstrators and other wishes.
The fate of his appeal was not immediately clear.
China’s government has targeted an array of companies and the National Basketball Association for perceived support of the Hong Kong anti-government protests.
Apple Inc became the latest on Wednesday when the ruling Communist Party’s main newspaper criticised the tech giant for a smartphone app on its App Store that allows activists to report police locations and use of tear gas.
The app, HKmap.live, “facilitates illegal behaviour”, the People’s Daily said in a commentary. It warned that Apple might be damaging its reputation with Chinese consumers.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Beijing has pressed companies including Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways to take the government’s side against the protests, which are in their fourth month.
China’s state broadcaster cancelled broadcasts of NBA games after the general manager of one of its teams tweeted support for the protesters.
Mr Leung, the activist, emerged as one of the figureheads of protest in Hong Kong after 2014’s failed non-violent demonstrations over Beijing’s decision to restrict elections.
Among supporters who gathered outside Wednesday’s hearing was Kenny Lee, 23, who said Mr Leung “has inspired a lot of Hong Kong people, especially our young people.”
Mr Leung has been an advocate of independence for Hong Kong, which reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997.
He was sentenced in June 2018 for his role in a February 2016 outbreak of violence in the city’s working-class Mong Kok district.