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story.lead_photo.caption A supporter of Edward Leung kneels to stop a police van carrying the political activist Wednesday outside the High Court in Hong Kong. More photos are available at arkansasonline.com/1010protest/

HONG KONG -- Hundreds of masked protesters yelling "Revolution Now!" crammed the sidewalk in front of Hong Kong's High Court and spilled onto the street in a show of support Wednesday for an activist appealing a six-year prison sentence for his part in a violent nightlong clash with police.

As a prison service bus with mesh-covered windows drove Edward Leung away after the hearing, supporters pressed up against the vehicle, briefly blocking traffic, and held five fingers up in their air. That symbolizes the five demands of Hong Kong's protest movement for direct elections, amnesty for arrested demonstrators and other wishes.

The fate of his appeal was not immediately clear.

China's government has targeted companies and the National Basketball Association for perceived support of the Hong Kong anti-government protests. Apple Inc. became the latest on Wednesday when the ruling Communist Party's main newspaper criticized the tech giant for a smartphone app in its App Store that allows activists to report police locations and use of tear gas. Another version is available for smartphones that use the Android operating system.

[Video not showing up above? Click here to watch » https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfg9qs8XroU]

The app, HKmap.live, "facilitates illegal behavior," the People's Daily said in a commentary. It warned that Apple might be damaging its reputation with Chinese consumers.

Apple removed the app from its online store today.

The app's developers distributed a message they said was from Apple that said HKmap.live was removed because it "has been used to target and ambush police" and "threaten public safety."

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Gallery: Protesters shout slogans outside the High Court in Hong Kong

Asked Wednesday whether the Chinese government had asked Apple to remove HKmap.live from its online store, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said he had no information about that.

"What I can tell you is that these radical, violent crimes in Hong Kong have seriously challenged the legal system and social order in Hong Kong, threatened the safety of Hong Kong residents' lives and property, and undermined the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong," said the spokesman, Geng Shuang.

Beijing has pressed companies including Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways to take the government's side against the protests, which are in their fourth month.

China's state broadcaster canceled broadcasts of NBA games after the general manager of one of its teams tweeted support for the protesters.

Leung, the activist, emerged as one of the figureheads of protest in Hong Kong after 2014's failed nonviolent demonstrations over Beijing's decision to restrict elections.

Among supporters who gathered outside Wednesday's hearing was Kenny Lee, 23, who said Leung "has inspired a lot of Hong Kong people, especially our young people."

Even jailed, Leung's activism still resonates as Hong Kong is again gripped by protests that have snowballed since June.

"He started spreading his idea a few years ago but at that time, not many people really understood him and some even criticized him," said J. Sze, a supporter in her 20s.

"Now, some people start to agree with his idea, maybe a little bit late," she said.

Leung has been an advocate of independence for Hong Kong, which reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997. He was sentenced in June 2018 for his role in a Feb. 8-9, 2016, outbreak of violence in the city's working-class Mong Kok district.

Information for this article was contributed by Joe McDonald of The Associated Press.

Photo by AP/VINCENT YU
A demonstrator outside Hong Kong’s High Court building carries a flag reading “liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times.”

A Section on 10/10/2019

Print Headline: Hong Kong crowd backs activist

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