News media company owner Jimmy Lai Chee-ying was arrested again late Wednesday at Stanley Prison in connection with the attempted escape of 12 people wanted for illegally crossing a border.
Lai will request bail Thursday after his house arrest was revoked by a judge earlier this month. He faces up to another five years in prison if convicted of the latest charge.
Apple Daily founder Lai is currently in custody for another charge under the city's National Security Law which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Nine of Hong Kong's leading pro-democracy activists appeared for a second day in West Kowloon Magistrates' Courts Wednesday for their lawyers to present reports. The defendants face charges of illegal assembly after allegedly organizing and participating in a mid-2019 rally that drew nearly 2 million.
The trial is expected to last 10 days. All but two of the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Martin Lee Chu-ming, author of Hong Kong's miniconstitution, was among the accused along with four other former politicians.
"It's the department of justice, the police department and the Hong Kong government who should be on trial because they have deprived us of our constitutional rights," said former Legislative Council member Lee Cheuk-yan after facing the charges against him.
Despite potential jail Lee was optimistic. "This year is the Year of the Ox so we should be stubborn as an ox," he said outside the court.
The group is accused of planning an unauthorised assembly and blocking traffic from Victoria Park in Causeway Bay to Hong Kong's Central business district Aug. 18, 2019.
Protests and marches in Hong Kong must be approved by the police or participants risk being fined or arrested.
As many as 1.7 million people - nearly one in four city residents - turned out to the march, according to the Civil Human Rights Front group that organized it to call for democracy and better police accountability in Hong Kong.
The defendants encouraged people to march across the city in defiance of police instructions, prosecutors have told the court.
Two of the accused, Au Nok-hin and Leung Yiu-chung, pled guilty to organizing and participating in the assembly, respectively. They are on bail and will be sentenced March 22.