China sentences 10 HK activists to prison terms

A Chinese court has handed down prison terms of up to three-years to Hong Kong citizens detained by China's coast guard as they attempted to flee the territory to Taiwan.

Twelve pro-democracy activists and students were detained by China's coast guard in August as they tried to enter Taiwan by boat. They were later charged with navigating in waters illegally.

Most of the 12 activists were on bail at that time of the escape attempt after being arrested and indicted in connection with anti-government protests in Hong Kong.

One of them is a man who was arrested on suspicion of violating the territory's national security law.

On Wednesday, a court in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, neighboring Hong Kong, sentenced a man and a woman to three years and two years in prison respectively for organizing the illegal migration.

Eight of the 12 were sentenced to seven months imprisonment.

Chinese prosecutors decided not to charge two teenagers who were under 18 when they were detained. The two were handed over to Hong Kong police for questioning.

The court said all 12 suspects pleaded guilty, but has not revealed details of the proceedings.

Families of the activists have criticized Chinese authorities for denying the detainees access to lawyers of their choosing as well as for not allowing them to observe the trial.

Britain, the European Union and the United States have expressed deep concerns about the court proceedings, which they say lack transparency.