Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong was barred Tuesday from standing in upcoming local elections after months of huge and frequently violent protests in the city.
Wong, one of the most prominent figures in the otherwise leaderless movement, accused the government of “political screening” after an election officer ruled invalid his nomination for the November poll.
The 22-year-old was sent to prison earlier this year over the democracy protests he helped lead in 2014. He immediately joined the historic anti-government protests rocking the city upon his release in June.
Wong was the only candidate barred from standing in an election for district councils, which tackle regional issues. The election is the first to be held since the current mass protests started.
He accused the government Tuesday of censorship in disqualifying him.
“The decision to ban me from running for office was clearly politically driven,” he told a press conference on Tuesday.
“The true reason is my identity, Joshua Wong, is the crime in their minds.”
He also accused the election officer of misinterpreting his political ideology.
“This says that the disqualification was simply a hard order from Beijing, a political mission handed down from Beijing.”
The election officer wrote in her reasoning that Wong’s concept of self-determination does not rule out the independence of Hong Kong as an option, which she deemed inconsistent with the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution.
Wong and his party, Demosisto, have denied supporting independence for the city.
They advocate self-determination and a referendum for Hong Kong people to decide how they want to be governed.