HONG KONG – Agnes Chow, a prominent pro-democracy activist from Hong Kong, was released from prison on Saturday after serving nearly seven months for her role in an unauthorized rally during anti-government protests in the city in 2019.
The 24-year-old activist was convicted along with her longtime fellow activist Joshua Wong for their involvement in an illegal rally near the police headquarters in the Chinese-ruled city.
Wong remains in prison, and the reason for Chow’s early release after being sentenced to 10 months in prison was unclear. The Department of Corrections did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Chow was released from Tai Lam Correctional Facility in Tuen Mun, New Territories District of Hong Kong, around 10 a.m. local time (10 p.m. ET). She did not speak to the media until she was driven in a car with friends and other democracy activists.
Supporters shouted, “Agnes Chow is adding oil,” a Cantonese expression of encouragement that was widely used during the protests that rocked the city.
Some supporters wore black T-shirts and yellow masks and one held a yellow umbrella, a symbol of protests in the former British colony, dating back to 2014.
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Chow, along with Wong and Nathan Law, who have since been granted asylum in Britain, rose to prominence as teenage activists during the 2014 protests to demand universal suffrage.
The three men founded democracy group Demosisto in 2016, which disbanded hours after Beijing passed a controversial national security law for the city last year, fearing it might be targeted by the legislation.
The law stifled the pro-democracy movement and raised concerns about the autonomy prospects promised in Hong Kong under the formula “one country, two systems” when it was handed over to China in 1997.
Chow was also arrested last year on suspicion of “collusion with foreign forces” under the Security Act, but has not been charged in this connection.
Fluent in Japanese, Chow has a huge following in Japan, especially on social media, and had visited the country frequently before his arrest. She often posted on Twitter in the Japanese and Japanese media nicknamed her a “goddess of democracy”.