The Latest: Dissident joins protest after prison release

Associated Press |

HONG KONG (AP) — The Latest on protests in Hong Kong against an extradition bill (all times local):

Joshua Wong, a leader in Hong Kong's 2014 Umbrella Movement demonstrations, headed to join protesters gathered near Hong Kong's government headquarters after his release from prison.

After speaking to journalists who mobbed him as he left the correctional facility Monday, Wong laid flowers at a makeshift memorial outside a downtown shopping mall where a protester fell to his death Saturday night after hanging a banner on some scaffolding.

Wong's release came as protesters were still gathered near Hong Kong's government headquarters after a protest over an extradition bill promoted by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam. Organizers said the march drew nearly 2 million people.

"Hello world and hello freedom. GO HONG KONG!! he said in a tweet. "Withdraw the extradition bill. Carrie Lam step down. Drop all political persecutions."

Wong served a two-month sentence for contempt related to his involvement in the 2014 protests advocating a more democratic elections process.

A former legislator says protesters are angry their demands are not getting a response from Hong Kong's leader and he sees their current mission as planning for the long term.

After a massive demonstration on Sunday, the remaining protesters who stayed overnight agreed to get off the roads and allow traffic to return to normal in the area Monday morning. They say the suspension of the extradition bill that set off the past week's demonstrations was not enough. They want the bill to be dropped entirely and for leader Carrie Lam to resign.

Former Hong Kong legislator Lee Cheuk-yan says the activists' mission has become a long-term struggle and not a daily struggle. "So if Carrie Lam does not respond to the five demands by the protesters, people will come back and the struggle will continue."

Joshua Wong, a leading figure in Hong Kong's 2014 Umbrella Movement demonstrations, has vowed to join the latest protests after he was released from prison.

Wong's release Monday came as protesters were gathered near Hong Kong's government headquarters after a protest on Sunday that organizers said drew nearly 2 million people.

He told journalists that he needed a bit of time but that "no matter what happens, I will join the protest soon."

Wong served a two-month sentence for contempt related to his involvement in the 2014 protests advocating a more democratic elections process.

The latest protests were set off by an extradition bill that would allow some criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China for trials. The legislation has been suspended but residents worry it is a sign of weakening judicial independence in Hong Kong.

Protesters in Hong Kong have begun leaving the streets and gathering near the city's government headquarters.

The demonstrators who stayed after a massive protest march the day before were seen streaming Monday morning into a space outside Hong Kong's Legislative Council after police who had cleared it reopened the area.

Their decision to leave major streets allowed police to reopen them to traffic, averting the possibility of clashes similar to those that broke out , resulting in about 80 people being injured.

The government building was closed Monday.

Activists were staging strikes and other smaller events Monday. There are demanding that Hong Kong Chief Executive scrap a proposed extradition bill that she has suspended under intense pressure from residents worried it would undermine legal protections in the former British colony.

Protesters in Hong Kong have refused police requests to clear the streets.

A policewoman using a loudspeaker asked them to cooperate Monday morning as police lined up several officers deep and faced them.

A woman in black speaking for the protesters responded with her own microphone. She said they were not blocking anyone from getting to work and would leave only after Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam came to hear them out.

Police removed some of the barriers protesters had set up but refrained from using force. The protesters later put the barriers back and remained.

They are among hundreds who stayed overnight after a huge protest Sunday against a bill that raised fears about China's control of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong police and protesters are facing off Monday morning as authorities try to clear the streets of a few hundred people who stayed near the city government headquarters after massive demonstrations that stretched deep into the night.

The police asked for cooperation in clearing the road. Protesters responded with chants, some kneeling in front of the officers. The move came after activists rejected an apology from the city's top leader for her handling of legislation that has stoked fears of expanding control from Beijing in this former British colony.

Nearly 2 million of the city's 7 million people turned out on Sunday, according to estimates by protest organizers. Police said 338,000 were counted on the designated protest route in the "peak period" of the march.

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