Hong Kong activist Edward Leung released from prison
Hong Kong, Jan 19: Prominent Hong Kong independence activist Edward Leung has been released after spending four years in prison for a 2016 protest.
Leung left Shek Pik Prison on Lantau Island in the early hours of Wednesday. He appeared to indicate that he would be keeping a low profile after his release.
"Separated for four years, I want to cherish the valuable time to reunite with family and back to a normal life with them. Sincerely thankful to everyone, care and love," Leung said in a statement on Facebook.
Leung, 30, was the spokesperson of Hong Kong Indigenous, a now-defunct group that advocated the need to preserve a distinct Hong Kong identity instead of a Chinese one and was outspoken about "localism."
In 2018, he was jailed for assaulting a police officer and rioting during a 2016 protest that is now known as the Fishball Revolution.
Leung was initially sentenced to six years of jail time but it was reduced by two years for good behavior, local media said.
Coined outlawed phrase that gained popularity in later protests
The activist is known for coining the now-banned slogan "Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of our Times."
The slogan, which gained popularity during the 2019 pro-democracy protests , was the first to be declared illegal under the strict national security law imposed by the government in Beijing.
A court had ruled in 2021 that the slogan was "capable of inciting secession."
Leung's release comes at a time when authorities are clamping down on political dissent and putting many of Hong Kong's pro-democracy activists behind bars.
The activist said in his Facebook post that he would stop using social media and would not be interacting with the media.
"As required by law, I am subject to a supervision order upon release,'' he wrote.
In a post on his Facebook page on Tuesday, Leung's family had appealed to his supporters to let Leung "reunite with his family'' and asked supporters to prioritize their own safety.
The post also said that, based on legal advice, Leung's Facebook page would be taken down and the content would be removed on January 19 to protect him.