Hong Kong publisher Jimmy Lai and two opposition politicians have been charged with illegal assembly over a pro-democracy march last year.

The months of demonstrations calling for reforms in semi-autonomous Hong Kong crippled its economy and put its leaders and police force under unprecedented pressure.

Mr Lai was arrested at his home while former pro-democracy politician Yeung Sum and vice chairman of Hong Kong’s Labour Party, Lee Cheuk-yan, were also arrested.

After speaking with officers Mr Lai told reporters: “Well, the Hong Kong situation is getting tense here, but we have to go on, we have to go on.”

The three left the police station after being charged and are to appear in court on May 5. They could face up to five years in prison along with fines.

Senior police officer Wong Tung-kwong said all three were charged with illegal assembly in connection with the August 31 march, which was timed to mark the fifth anniversary of a decision by China against fully democratic elections in Hong Kong.

Organisers called off the march after police banned it, but hundreds of thousands of people defied the order and filled the streets in several areas of the Asian financial hub. Protesters threw petrol bombs at government headquarters and set fires in the streets, while police stormed an underground train and hit passengers with batons and pepper spray.


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