statement ahead of her sentencing. “And I have no way of comforting them through the glass in the visitation room in prison.”

She dreams of opening up a small business importing Taiwanese pineapples after she and a Taiwanese cellmate are released. With the profits, she would support other young people by helping to pay their legal fees and living expenses. “To do anything, you need money,” she said.

To make things easier on prisoners, Mr. Tang and some other activists have banded together to provide support. They write letters and gazettes to catch people up with protest news and raise funds to pay for better meals in jail while protesters await trials.

Mr. Tang frequently sees Ms. Yeung. During one visit to her prison near the border with the mainland city of Shenzhen, he brought pens and stamps. He left the stamps, but was unable to give her the pens, as it would have exceeded her monthly allowance of two.

For all of his dedication, Mr. Tang, who spent more than a half-year imprisoned after pleading guilty to arson charges, says it doesn’t feel like it’s enough.

“Many Hong Kongers have moved on and moved away and don’t think about how there is a group of people sitting behind bars for the movement we all fought for,” said Mr. Tang, who is in his late 30s. “It seems many have forgotten.”

Far from radicalizing during his time on the inside, Mr. Tang now struggles with cynicism and meaning in a city that suddenly seems unfamiliar. He has been disheartened by the protest movement’s stagnation and by the waves of migration out of the city. The camaraderie of protest has been replaced by dread of ever more targeted arrests. He sees it all as an abandonment of values and believes that escape is a privilege unavailable to many.

Mr. Tang’s protester friends from prison also seem to be moving on. A group chat they kept, called the “Lai Chi Kok Prisoners,” after the facility where they were detained, still lights up occasionally with holiday greetings and vague laments. But few want to talk politics. Sometimes those in prison that do speak out seem to be exaggerating their place in the movement. He rolls his eyes at one prisoner, who has taken to calling himself Mandela 2.0.

“All that we have left is our relationships with one another,” he said. “Some seem ready to let that go.”

Yet, for Mr. Tang, there is no road back — not that he’d take it. His former employer was understanding, but let him go when his absence stretched on. He has been unable to access his life savings, he said, after his bank account was frozen over automated donations he made in 2019 to a protester bail fund that police placed under investigation.

He has applied to managerial jobs like those he had worked in the past, only to be turned away because of his criminal record. Now, he’s mulling applying for a taxi license or working in construction.

He still faces four charges related to the protests that were filed just days before his release from prison. The thought of officers at his door has kept him away from the apartment he shares with his mother. He tells her he now works a night shift, and she doesn’t press him.

“I’m really tired,” Mr. Tang said. “The government has left us no room to resist and nowhere to go.”

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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s Sentence Ends in Iran

LONDON — Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian woman who has been detained in Tehran since 2016, was scheduled to be released on Sunday after five years in a case that has deepened a diplomatic rift between Britain and Iran and drawn international condemnation.

What exactly will happen, however, remains uncertain, as has been the case during much of her time in custody, a period filled with raised expectations and dashed hopes for her family and supporters.

As of Sunday morning, her husband said there was no sign that she would be allowed to return to London despite the official end of her sentence. Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was convicted of plotting to overthrow Iran’s government, is still under house arrest in Tehran, still without her passport and still without answers on when the ordeal will end.

“It is, in my view, clearly a game of chess. She’s the pawn,” her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, said in an interview last week. “And it’s not the beginning of that game.”

an attempt to win her freedom, and her transfer from prison to house arrest last March as the coronavirus pandemic swept Iran raised hopes that she would be granted clemency and be able to return to Britain.

Instead, she has remained under detention in her parents’ home and is required to wear an electronic ankle bracelet. In September, Iran filed new charges against her and scheduled a new trial, although that was eventually halted.

Sunday came with little sign of any change in her status. For her to return to Britain, the authorities must remove her ankle bracelet, return her passport and give her permission to leave.

Her husband had hoped she might be on a plane by Monday, but that possibility looked increasingly slim. “She’d been counting down to this date for 18 months,” Mr. Ratcliffe said, crossing days off a calendar in her family home. “There is something deeply unsettling about going through that threshold, because if this can happen, anything could.”

a wait-and-see approach by British officials over his wife’s status, but he said he was more hopeful after meeting with the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, last week.

A spokesman for the British Foreign Office said in a statement that Mr. Raab and the office remained “in close contact with Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her family, and continue to provide our support.” It criticized her detention “as diplomatic leverage.”

“We continue to do everything we can to secure the release of arbitrarily detained dual British nationals so that they can be reunited with their loved ones,” the statement read.

Kate Allen, the director of Amnesty International U.K., said in a statement last week that Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe had “suffered a lot during this lengthy ordeal.”

“We’ve always said Nazanin should never have been jailed in the first place,” Ms. Allen said, calling on the Iranian authorities to “confirm as soon as possible that preparations are actually underway to facilitate Nazanin’s release.”

But for now, she and her family are in a holding pattern.

“It’s perpetual ambiguity,” Mr. Ratcliffe said. “You have this long, maybe she’ll be home, maybe it’ll get worse, maybe it will stay the same for year.”

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