Mr. Tong’s lawyers are expected to argue, as have many protesters, that the phrase represents a desire to reclaim Hong Kong’s unique identity from the heavy-handed influence of Beijing. The government has said the slogan represents a call for independence, and thus violates the security law.

That a political slogan could constitute a criminal offense is still a new and unsettling idea in Hong Kong, where residents had for decades enjoyed the right to protest, freedoms largely unseen in mainland China.

“We must bear in mind the context. The words he had, we need to understand that during that period those words were quite commonly spoken and exhibited on many flags and banners in peaceful and even non-peaceful protests in Hong Kong,” said Eric Cheung, a law lecturer at the University of Hong Kong.

“The meaning of these words differ from person to person,” Mr. Cheung said. “You now say that using these words carry only that meaning which amount to intention to subvert the country, I think that is a debate.”

Even if Mr. Tong is not convicted of terrorism, he faces a separate charge of causing grievous bodily harm by dangerous driving, which carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison.

As he awaited trial, Mr. Tong was sharing a cell with 10 men, according to Shiu Ka-chun, a former lawmaker who wrote on his social media page last year that he had been visiting him regularly. Mr. Shiu declined to comment about Mr. Tong. But in his social media posts, he wrote that Mr. Tong has been reading books on history, including a memoir by Lee Teng-hui, Taiwan’s first democratically elected president.

“For those comrades who are continuing to take a stand, he says wait and be patient,” Mr. Shiu wrote. “For those who have left Hong Kong, he looks upon that calmly and thinks, ‘Hong Kong is in your hearts, everywhere is Hong Kong.’”

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2 Americans Found Guilty of Murder of Italian Police Officer

ROME — Two American men were found guilty of murder on Wednesday and sentenced to life for the killing of an Italian military police officer in July 2019, when the two young San Francisco natives were vacationing in Rome.

Ending a 14-month trial held mostly behind closed doors because of pandemic restrictions, a jury found Finnegan Elder, 21, and Gabriel Natale Hjorth, 20, guilty of the murder of Deputy Brig. Mario Cerciello Rega, 35.

Gasps were heard across the courtroom as the verdicts were announced, and the slain officer’s widow leaned against her lawyer and sobbed.

The two Americans were in their teens on July 26, 2019, when an early-morning scuffle on a deserted street corner with two plainclothes police officers — Brigadier Cerciello Rega and another officer, Andrea Varriale — turned deadly.

homicidal intent.

The fight capped a convoluted evening that began with an aborted drug deal in a trendy nightlife neighborhood. After an unsuccessful attempt to buy cocaine, the two Americans stole a backpack belonging to Sergio Brugiatelli, a middleman who had brokered that drug deal, and then demanded money for the bag’s return.

Brigadier Cerciello Rega and his partner had been dispatched to retrieve the backpack, and the officer was killed at the rendezvous for the handover.

Mr. Elder repeatedly stabbed Brigadier Cerciello Rega with an seven-inch military-style knife after they began fighting, and Mr. Natale Hjorth briefly wrestled with Officer Varriale. Mr. Elder never denied killing Brigadier Cerciello Rega, but said he had acted in self-defense, believing that the officer was trying to choke him.

The teenagers were arrested at their hotel, just down the block from where Brigadier Cerciello Rega was killed, a few hours after the murder.

last July, he said that they had pulled out their badges and clearly announced themselves.

The case attracted international attention in part because of the young ages of the victim and the men on trial. Brigadier Cerciello Rega, who had just returned to work after his honeymoon, was given a hero’s funeral, broadcast live on national television.

Mr. Elder and Mr. Natale Hjorth have spent the last 21 months in prisons in Rome while awaiting the trial and verdict.

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Killer of French Police Officer Was a Radicalized Islamist, Prosecutor Says

PARIS — Jamel Gorchene, the Tunisian man who killed a police officer Friday in a terrorist attack that has stirred a political storm in France, had watched videos “glorifying martyrs and jihad immediately before he acted,” the top French antiterrorism prosecutor said Sunday.

Speaking at a news conference, the prosecutor, Jean-François Ricard, portrayed Mr. Gorchene as an immigrant with a “troubled personality” whose radicalization went unnoticed by the French intelligence services before he stabbed the police officer in the neck and abdomen at her station.

“According to two witnesses, the aggressor went back and forth in front of the building before he struck,” Mr. Ricard said. “And he cried ‘Allahu akbar’” — God is great, in Arabic — “as he stabbed the victim.” Officials identified the dead 49-year-old police officer by her first name, Stéphanie.

The killing took place in the affluent town of Rambouillet, southwest of Paris, far from the troubled projects circling big French cities where many Muslim immigrants, mainly from North Africa, live. The misery in these areas and the failure of integration they represent have been viewed as one source of the Islamist terrorism that has been a recurrent scourge in France, leaving more than 200 people dead in 2015 and 2016 alone.

Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, the delivery-truck driver who in 2016 plowed a 19-ton refrigeration vehicle into a crowd on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, killing 86 people. In that case, too, the attacker was not on a French government database of radicalized militants.

security into a central issue of next year’s presidential election. A poll published Sunday by the newspaper Journal du Dimanche paper indicated that 72 percent of French people regard the issue as a priority, below health care but above unemployment and fighting poverty.

“Macron equals chaos,” said Marine Le Pen, the extreme right leader who appears to be in a tight race with the president, citing “the multiplication of terrorist attacks.”

Gérald Darmanin, the hard-line interior minister installed last year by Mr. Macron in an attempt to blunt Ms. Le Pen’s appeal, has led the government’s riposte, declaring in an interview in the Journal du Dimanche that “our hand is not trembling.” He said that at the request of Mr. Macron, he would present a new antiterrorism bill aimed at what he called “an evolving threat.”

The bill, in preparation before the most recent attack, would reinforce the technological means the government can use to track messages on social media.

Mr. Darmanin cited the fact that intelligence services had missed the contacts with Syria that the Chechen killer of a teacher last October had, because he was using Instagram’s messaging service. The teacher, Samuel Paty, was beheaded after showing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad during a class on freedom of expression.

The period during which people convicted on terrorism charges could be subjected to various “administrative constraints” after leaving prison would be extended to two years from one, Mr. Darmanin said.

Asked if there was any danger of an infringement of civil liberties, Mr. Darmanin said, “Let’s stop with this kind of naïveté.”

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France Opens Terrorism Inquiry After Killing at Police Station

PARIS — The French authorities opened a terrorism investigation on Friday after a knife-wielding assailant killed a police officer at a station about 25 miles southwest of Paris before being shot dead.

France is still on high alert for terrorism after a string of attacks last fall, and Jean Castex, the prime minister, and Gérald Darmanin, the interior minister, quickly rushed to the scene of the attack in Rambouillet, a quiet, affluent town.

“She was a policewoman,” President Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter after the attack, identifying the victim only as Stéphanie. “We will yield nothing in the fight against Islamist terrorism,” Mr. Macron added.

Mr. Castex told reporters that the officer, who carried out administrative duties at the station, had been “cravenly” killed in “dramatic” circumstances, but he did not elaborate.

said on Twitter.

a history teacher was beheaded after showing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a class on free speech in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, and three people were stabbed to death at a basilica in Nice.

to counter Islamist extremism in France. The attack is likely to further amplify the prominence of the issue during the presidential election campaign next year.

After a wave of large-scale attacks in 2015 and 2016 that killed hundreds, France has faced smaller spikes of Islamist terrorism perpetrated by isolated, self-radicalized individuals whom intelligence services have found hard to track.

“Today we need to do a better job following the bottom of the spectrum: these individuals who are not perceived as the most dangerous, but who can take action without any forewarning,” Mr. Macron told the newspaper Le Figaro this week.

Valérie Pécresse, a top regional official, said the assailant had struck at “a symbol of France,” a town in the countryside that she described as “so peaceful.”

Ms. Pécresse said the police station in Rambouillet was well protected and that access inside was restricted. The attacker, she said, appeared to have waited for the victim to briefly exit the building.

French security forces have been often been targeted by terrorists.

In 2016, an Islamic State assailant fatally stabbed an off-duty police officer and his companion, a police employee, at their home. In 2017, a gunman killed a veteran police officer on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. And in 2019, in one of the worst attacks on the French police to date, a radicalized police employee stabbed four of his colleagues to death at the Paris police headquarters.

The attack on Friday was followed by widespread condemnation, especially among Mr. Macron’s political opponents on the right and far-right, who have ramped up criticism of his security record before France’s 2022 presidential elections and regularly blame him for doing too little to protect the police and being too soft on crime.

Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Rally party and Mr. Macron’s main rival in next year’s election, told the BFMTV news channel that Mr. Macron’s administration was synonymous with “chaos.”

“The security situation in our country has never been so critical,” Ms. Le Pen said. “I wonder if France has become the country most affected by terrorism in Europe. Does it bother the government? I’m not even sure.”

Constant Méheut and Norimitsu Onishi contributed reporting.

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Israelis and Palestinians Clash Around Jerusalem’s Old City

JERUSALEM — Clashes between Israelis and Palestinians erupted overnight in Jerusalem as hundreds of supporters of an extremist Jewish supremacy group staged a march, chanting “Death to Arabs,” near the Old City.

The violence was the culmination of building tensions between Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem and elsewhere over the past couple weeks. Palestinian media reported that 78 Palestinians were injured and 15 of them were treated in hospitals. About 20 Israeli police officers and at least 16 Israeli civilians were hurt as well.

More than 50 people were arrested in the melee, both in predominantly Palestinian East Jerusalem and mostly Jewish West Jerusalem, according to the police. The city’s mayor, Moshe Lion, said he had asked the police to ban the extremist group’s demonstration but had been told that was impossible.

“There is no doubt that it was superfluous,” Mr. Lion told Kan, Israel’s public radio. “It did not add to the quiet that we need now.”

in a statement for “responsible voices” to urge an end to incitement and to restore calm in the city.

chanting “Allahu akbar,” or God is Great, and “Martyrs are marching to Jerusalem in their millions,” a Palestinian rallying cry.

Myra Noveck contributed reporting.

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Myanmar Protesters Arm Themselves With Homemade Weapons



Every day, when Ko Win Kyaw goes out to demonstrate against the Myanmar military, he carries his slingshot and a supply of rocks as ammunition. It is little help against the army’s overwhelming firepower, but he says it gives him confidence and a way to strike back.

“I know I can’t defend myself with a slingshot, because I’m facing people with guns,” he said. “When they shoot, I run.”

Mr. Win Kyaw, 36, is one of many pro-democracy protesters who have started arming themselves with rudimentary weapons as they defy the military regime in Myanmar. What began as peaceful protests after the Feb. 1 coup rapidly grew into a resistance movement, with citizens defending themselves using slingshots, homemade air guns, old hunting rifles and firebombs.

In a statement this week, the United Nations High Commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, said the military’s brutal crackdown in the Southeast Asian nation had “led to some individuals taking up arms,” warning that the situation had “echoes of Syria in 2011” and was “heading toward a full-blown conflict.”

deadliest crackdown since the coup, according to a human rights group tracking the killings. More than 728 people have been killed, and at least 3,000 have been detained.

In the hard-hit Tharketa township of Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, one protester said he and his friends had formed a team of about 20 people after the slaughter on March 27. “We were peaceful protesters after the coup,” said Ko Thi Ha, 26. “But when they killed so many people, we couldn’t go further with a peaceful movement. We needed to fight back.”

attacked a similar group with rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns, killing at least 82.

State-owned news outlets have blamed the ousted elected leaders and “anarchic mobs” for the rising violence in Myanmar. In other countries where pro-democracy movements have taken hold in recent years, the authorities have also justified intensifying crackdowns by pointing to protesters with weapons.

In Yangon this month, there were several arson attacks on police stations and government offices, as well as small explosions that caused little damage and no injuries. Some experts on the Tatmadaw fear strong retaliation if protesters were to succeed in procuring deadly weapons on a large scale.

Chinese-made surveillance drones, the slingshot has become the weapon of choice for many protesters. They are cheap and easy to conceal, and can be fired quickly from hiding. For ammunition, some buy glass marbles or smooth stones that have been collected for the purpose. When ammunition runs short, there are usually plenty of rocks around.

Until recently, the slingshot was most common in rural areas, where cowboys often use it to prod their cattle. A skilled marksman can pick off a mango from a high branch.

After the protests began, the slingshot first appeared in the hands of the police. Videos taken by residents showed groups of officers roaming the streets at night, firing randomly at people, homes and windows. As the demonstrations escalated, the police traded their slingshots for rifles while the protesters took them up in large numbers.

Last month, when Alexander Fomin, the Russian deputy defense minister, visited Myanmar, the junta leader, Sr. General Min Aung Hlaing, showed him an exhibit of items confiscated from protesters. A video of the encounter shows the general demonstrating for Mr. Fomin how a slingshot works.

“Pull back to shoot,” he said.

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U.K. Police Bill Protesters Turn Violent at Bristol Rally

Violent protests erupted Sunday night in the British city of Bristol over a proposed police and crime bill that would create sweeping new restrictions on protests and grant broad new powers to the police.

Video from the scene showed a police vehicle ablaze and protesters charging at the graffiti-strewn vehicle. One officer suffered a broken arm and another a broken rib, the authorities said.

The “kill the bill” rally drew thousands of protesters in the southwest city, witnesses reported.

said on Twitter. “Our police officers put themselves in harm’s way to protect us all. My thoughts this evening are with those police officers injured.”

said in a statement that “those responsible for offenses will be identified and brought to justice,” the force said on Twitter.

policing bill being debated in Parliament would make it easier for the authorities to set limits on demonstrations and punish protesters who refuse to comply with the rules.

Opposition to the measure increased in the wake of a police crackdown on a rally held in London earlier this month to protest violence against women.

The police drew widespread criticism for their handling of a vigil to mark the killing of a 33-year-old woman. The vigil in South London was for Sarah Everard, whose killing touched off a national outcry over misogyny. Officers from the Metropolitan Police, the main London force, clashed with some of the attendees.

Bristol’s mayor, Marvin Rees, said Sunday that he recognized “the frustrations” with the policing bill, the BBC reported, but that “smashing buildings in our city center, vandalizing vehicles, attacking our police will do nothing to lessen the likelihood of the bill going through.”

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13 Law Enforcement Officers Killed in Mexico Ambush

MEXICO CITY — Gunmen on Thursday ambushed a Mexican government convoy conducting a security patrol southwest of the capital, killing 13 prosecutors and police officers in what appeared to be the deadliest assault on Mexican law enforcement in well over a year, officials said.

The attack was a major setback to government security forces and yet another reminder of the severe security challenges facing President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. The president took office in 2018 promising to make Mexico a safer place, but he has been unable to put a meaningful dent in the violence that has long bloodied the country.

Rodrigo Martínez Celis Wogau, security minister for the State of Mexico, called the ambush “an affront to the Mexican state” and promised to “respond with total force.”

The convoy on Thursday was patrolling in Coatepec Harinas, about 40 miles southwest of Mexico City, the capital, to “combat criminal groups who operate in that zone,” Mr. Martínez added in a video statement posted on Twitter.

gunmen killed 14 police officers in the state of Michoacán.

The slayings in central Mexico on Thursday added to the 86 police officers who had been killed this year already, according to Causa en Común, a Mexican anti-corruption group that focuses on public security.

Last year was the deadliest year for police since the group began tracking deaths in 2018, with at least 524 officers killed.

Like most crimes in Mexico, the majority of police killings go unpunished, security analysts say.

“The feeling that’s left is that it’s possible to attack an agent of the state without consequences,” said Alejandro Hope, a Mexico City-based security analyst. “If we can’t protect the lives of the police, how can we ask them to protect ours?”

The federal government immediately responded to the killings on Thursday by deploying elements of the Marines, the Army and the National Guard to the area, Mr. Martinez said.

Officials made no immediate comment about potential suspects in the attack.

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Prosecutor Seeks Life Sentence for Americans in Killing of Italian Officer

ROME — An Italian prosecutor on Saturday asked that two San Francisco men on trial in the 2019 killing of a military police officer in Rome receive the maximum sentence of life in prison.

Wrapping up a nearly four-hour summation in a stuffy Rome courtroom, the prosecutor, Maria Sabina Calabretta, argued that the two men acted with “homicidal intent” when they assaulted Deputy Brig. Mario Cerciello Rega and his partner on a July night in 2019.

“A grave injustice” had been “committed against a good man who was working,” she said, and only the convictions of Finnegan Elder, 21 and Gabriel Natale Hjorth, 20, would ensure that the officer “not be killed again.”

The yearlong trial has drawn intense media scrutiny in Italy and headlines in the United States with its focus on the behavior of the two Americans the night of the confrontation and the tragic death of the newly married officer.

this past week, Mr. Elder testified that he thought the two plainclothes officers were “thugs” sent by the middleman whose knapsack they had stolen, and that he and Mr. Natale Hjorth had acted in self-defense after the two officers jumped them. He said he had “panicked,” and stabbed Brigadier Cerciello Rega, who he thought was trying to choke him.

Mr. Elder testified that the two officers did not identify themselves as carabinieri and that they did not show their badges when they approached him and Mr. Natale Hjorth, a San Francisco school friend who had joined him for two days in Rome during the last leg of a summer trip in Europe.

Ms. Calabretta on Saturday challenged Mr. Elder’s account of the confrontation, noting that Officer Varriale had testified last summer that the officers had identified themselves as law enforcement and shown their badges.

The prosecutor also contested the defense narrative that suggested that the two Americans had been unexpectedly tackled by the officers from behind. Instead, she said Saturday, the two officers had approached them head-on and had been assaulted by the defendants without a second thought.

“Cerciello had no time to react,” she said.

“It was a violent, deadly, disproportionate attack,” she said.

Mr. Elder had brought a knife to the encounter, a sign of his “homicidal intent,” she added.

In his statement to the court last Monday, Mr. Elder said he had put the knife in the pocket of his hoodie because it made him “feel safer.”

After the confrontation, the two defendants returned to their nearby hotel unaware, they testified, of the seriousness of Brigadier Cerciello Rega’s condition. They were arrested in their hotel room a few hours later.

In asking for a life sentence, Ms. Calabretta said that neither the young age of the defendants nor their lack of criminal records should mitigate “the seriousness of the crime.”

The two defendants have also been charged with extortion for asking for money and a gram of cocaine in exchange for the backpack.

Ms. Calabretta said Saturday that even though Mr. Natale Hjorth had not wielded the knife that killed the officer he was equally guilty, the mastermind of the plot to exchange the backpack for money.

His lawyer, Francesco Petrelli, said Saturday that the prosecutor had asked for “the wrong sanction for the wrong defendant in a wrong trial.”

A verdict is expected before the summer.

Brigadier Cerciello Rega’s widow, Rosa Maria Esilio, declined to speak to reporters on Saturday. Her lawyer, Massimo Ferrandino, said the prosecutor’s request resulted from an “exhaustive” investigation that would now be up to the jury to confirm.

“We look forward to justice being done,” he said.

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