In December 2017, he resigned from his position as spokesperson of Hong Kong Indigenous. In the same year, Lost in the Fumes, an award-winning documentary based on his story, was released. In June 2018, he was convicted of rioting and assaulting a police officer during the Mong Kok unrest and sentenced to jail for six years. In 2019, a jury reached a verdict of not guilty in his trial for rioting in Portland Street, Mong Kok.
Leung served four years of his sentence in maximum-security prison, before his early release in early 2022 for good behaviour.
In 2019, Leung was recognised by Time magazine on its 100 Next, a list of rising stars expected to shape the future. The magazine called him a spiritual leader of the 2019 Hong Kong protests, which is a leaderless movement.
In 1979, the rehabilitation policy after Cultural Revolution returned the previously confiscated properties to Leung's family. In Summer 1990, Leung's father met his wife in Wuhan, the couple registered in Wuhan and Leung's mother resigned her job shortly after. On 2 June 1991, Leung was born in Hubei Province. In the following year, Leung followed his mother to reside in Hong Kong. In 2000, Leung's parents invested in restaurants in Wuhan, but took a loss due to SARS and Avian Influenza.
When Leung was young, he questioned the rationale behind political events such as the Handover of Hong Kong in 1997 and the yearly Hong Kong 1 July marches in 2003. His parents were excited with these events and explained to Leung about their meanings. He completed his college studies at Shung Tak Catholic English College in Yuen Long District. In 2008, aged 17, for the first time he participated in memorials for the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and 1 July marches. He then realised Hong Kong people protest to pursuit democracy and felt touched with their passion to preserve the truth of history.
In the same year, Leung started to participate in various social movements, and felt proud of driving the society forward. He studied at the University of Hong Kong, majoring in Philosophy with a minor in Politics and Public Administration, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 2016. He felt disappointed with the Hong Kong government ignoring the will of people, forcibly passing the Express Rail Grant and postponing the implementation of dual universal suffrage.
In 2015, Localist groupsHong Kong Indigenous was founded, to support street hawkers near districts of Sham Shui Po and Mong Kok. In March 2015, under the referral from his classmate, Leung met Ray Wong, another political activist, but was unable to join Hong Kong Indigenous. Based on their common ideology, Leung was invited to be the spokesperson of the aforementioned group. Leung and Wong founded "Channel i" on October of the same year, acting as shareholder and CEO.
2016 New Territories East by-election and Mong Kok unrest
In July 2016, Electoral Affairs Commission released new election measures, directed against activists with Hong Kong Independence stance, requiring all candidates to sign declarations to confirm their support to Basic Law, and Hong Kong is an inseparable part of China as stated in the Basic Law.
Leung applied to elect for New Territory East District, and initially refused to sign the declaration and asked for judicial review. On 22 July, Leung received an email from Electoral Affairs Commission, asking clarification on Leung's pro-Independence political stance.
For this, Leung and Avery Ng sought judicial review with the High Court, claiming Electoral Affairs Commission has acted in excess of their authority, criticizing HKSAR Government's political censorship. However, the judges ruled that there was no urgency before the end of nomination and refused to approve judicial review immediately. Leung eventually decided to sign the declaration, claiming to support the Hong Kong Basic Law and declaring loyalty to HKSAR, and no longer advocating independence.
In the end, six allegedly pro-independence nominees, including Leung and Hong Kong National Party convener Chan Ho-tin, were disqualified by the committee, the reason being the returning officer refused to believe their claims were genuine. On 5 August, Leung and 2,500 pro-independence supporters rallied, claiming it was the first rally supporting Hong Kong Independence.
In August 2016, Leung uploaded a video on Facebook, claiming he had been tracked for a month. Facebook quickly deleted the video and barred Leung's account from posting for 24 hours when Leung attempted to re-upload it. On 15 August, Leung was stalked by Ta Kung Pao reporters. Leung photographed the stalker and conflict occurred in Tai Koo Station, police arrived and filed the case as dispute, later changed to public fighting because the stalker claimed that Leung had assaulted him.
Meanwhile, Ta Kung Pao continuously dug information on Leung's background, including his birthplace and ancestry. In September, Leung and Ray Wong participated in Seventh International Conference of Tibet Support Groups, organized in Brussels, Belgium. Leung revealed he would submit an election petition when the election results were published on Hong Kong Government Gazette, On 7 October, Leung submitted the election petition on his disqualification.
On the other hand, Leung was charged of rioting and inciting riot after the Mong Kok civil unrest. On 18 December 2017, Hong Kong Indigenous issued a statement, announcing Leung has resigned his membership and spokesperson duty.
On 18 January 2018, Leung and five other protesters were called in court on riot charges, Leung and Ray Wong were also charged with inciting riots between 8 to 9 February 2016 at Portland Street, Mong Kok, and police assault charges.
On 22 January 2018, Leung pleaded guilty of assault charges, but denied rioting and inciting riot. He was instantly remanded in custody. On 18 May 9 jurors reached a unanimous verdict that Leung was guilty of rioting and assault charges, but was acquitted on inciting riots. He was later sentenced to 6 years in prison. It is believed that Leung's lengthy sentence was intended to intimidate activists and squelch political protest.
On 5 March 2020, local media reported that Leung had been transferred to a maximum-security prison.
During the jail time, Leung appealed his charges and sentence, and applied for legal aid and studied a Bachelor of Social Science in Open University of Hong Kong. He is expected to be discharged in January 2022. Leung's case judgement was rescinded in March 2019, jurors ruled with 7:2 ratio that Leung was not guilty with rioting. Meanwhile, senators from 11 countries across Europe, America and Asia issued a joint statement, stating their concern over HKSAR Government abusing obsolete colonial-era Public Order Ordinance arresting and charging protesters indiscriminately in order to silence opposite voices, and request to revise the ordinance. Leung pledged a crowdfunding for his appeal on 9 October 2019, and received over 450,000 Hong Kong dollars in 15 minutes. On 29 April 2020, Leung lost an appeal against his six-year jail term.
Leung was released from Shek Pik Prison on 19 January 2022 on after serving four years of his six-year sentence. After his release, he deleted his Facebook page. He stated that he would not give any interviews or receive visits, and must observe a supervision order.
Leung was educated in Hong Kong. This has shaped his values and deep passions to Hong Kong. He was also inspired by The Social Contract by French thinker, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Hong Kong City-state by Chin Wan. Leung has identified himself as a radical localist loyal to Hong Kong, promoting localism, and openly support, advocate Hong Kong Independence. He refused to identify himself as a Chinese, asserting Hong Kong's ability to be independent, and is an inevitable trend.
Leung initially wanted to incorporate localism ideology into mainstream political agenda, and provide the rights for Hong Kong people to determine their future. He believed his by-election approval rate is an alarm to the government. Another main goal is to de-colonize Hong Kong. Leung also believes that the core values and systems of Hong Kong are slowly corroded by China and anyone can be considered Hong Kong people if he or she is willing to defend Hong Kong's core values, respect Hong Kong culture, and willing to merge and maintain Hong Kong's codes and systems. He also believes localism supporters need a councilor to represent their wills.
In accordance with Hong Kong Indigenous's theme "Valiant", Leung believes Valiant is a mindset instead of behaviour, also agreeing sometimes it could be associated to violence. However, he agrees more aggressive ways are required to counter the government's unfair, corrupted system, even at the cost of sacrificing one's life. He also mentioned "no bottom line" does not necessarily mean at all costs. In 2015, Leung and Ray Wong advocated protesters to use Black bloc strategy to protect each other, yet he did not deny the actions of throwing rocks and arson, during Monk Kok civil unrest. After his disqualification, he believes revolution is the only way out. He also mentioned that to confront an evil government, actions should not be confined with "no violence", everything must be done to counter suppression. He expects Hong Kong revolution will require at least 16 years to succeed.
In 2017, Leung decided to temporarily halt pushing independence. In 2018, Leung revealed his wish for Localist and Democrats to reach a consensus, resolve differences and stand united against the government.
Edward Leung is a protester after the Umbrella Revolution. Hong Kong Indigenous approves Leung's successful effort to incorporate localism into mainstream political stage During the 2016 by-election, compared to other candidates who condemned protesters' violence, Leung was able to garner votes from more radical voters, raising his fame and ultimately his final number of votes had exceeded the expectations of many. This was widely seen as signifying the rise of localism and a strong inspiration in the upcoming Legislative Council election.
Leung also claimed that, after the by-election, localism effectively became the third power in Hong Kong Politics, alongside Pro-democracy groups and Pro-beijing groups. Leung's candidature for the Legco election triggered polar reactions. Also, the HKSAR government, just before the nomination period ended, abruptly requested candidate to sign confirmation, declaring support to Hong Kong Basic Law and promise loyalty to HKSAR. This led to Leung's disqualification. Later Leung was sentenced to 6 years in prison due to participation in the 2016 Mong Kok civil unrest.
Tai Kung Pao once commented on Leung's clear mind, quick response, and excellent communication skills, believing HKSAR Government need to treat the by-election results seriously. Former Chief Executive of Hong KongLeung Chun-Ying criticized Leung's behaviour. Since Leung was born in China, he was once accused of improvising his localist stance. His life and political career were documented in the film Lost in the Fumes in 2017, an award-winning biographical documentary by Nora Lam. However, no mainstream cinema in Hong Kong was willing to screen the film, renewing fears about self-censorship and suppress of freedom of speech.
In November 2019, Leung was nominated by Time on its "100 Next" as one of the top 100 rising stars predicted to shape the world's future. Time commented that although Leung has been jailed since 2016, Anti-extradition Bill protesters treated him as a spiritual leader. "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times" slogan was widely used and Lost in the fumes was a highly successful political documentary.
The late businessman Stanley Ho and Leung are both HKU alumni. On 27 May 2020, HKU uploaded several group photographs, dated on 18 February 2014 at Ricci Hall 85th Anniversary with other alumni to show condolences, but Leung's part was found to be intentionally scrapped. This was widely condemned as self-censorship and wiping history in order to be "politically correct". HKU responded that their intention was to make the main character Stanley Ho stand out from the crowd. However, by cutting Leung away, Stanley Ho's lower body was scrapped and he was not centered in the picture anymore. After wide criticization, HKU replaced with the original photograph after two hours.