Telegram channel operator gets three-year jail sentence

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

A 26-year-old woman who helped run a Telegram channel during the 2019 protests was sentenced to three years in jail, for provoking and conspiring others to conduct violent and destroy property.

Hui Pui-yee had pleaded guilty to the two offences - conspiracy to commit a seditious act and conspiracy to incite others to commit arson. Both of her sentences will run concurrently.

Distict Court heard that between August to November in 2019, the defendant had allegedly used Telegram, the mobile application widely used by protesters, managing a channel used to urge followers to attack members of the police force and people with opposing political views.

Judge Frankie Yiu said Hui, as one of the channel’s administrators, could have deleted or amended those messages, but she did not and instead allowed hate speech towards the government and police to spread.

Yiu said even though there was no evidence showing Hui had publicized messages instructing others how to create grenades and bombs while others had. This could have created consequences that are “difficult to imagine”.

However, her jail term had been reduced to three years because of her guilty pleas, and after the court heard that Hui had suffered from severe depression and had no criminal record.

In mitigation, Hui’s lawyer argued that she had taken a passive role in the channel, by helping to filter out personal information and had only asked people to “bomb” others’ phones with messages.