Three student activists, who lead the Pro-democracy protests known as the Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong in 2014, were sentenced on Monday (15 August) but escaped jail time.

Joshua Wong, who became the face of the protest, was sentenced to 80 hours of community service for illegal assembly. Nathan Law was sentenced to 120 hours of community service for inciting people to take part in the protests. However, Alex Chow received a suspended three-week sentence.

The Magistrate June Chueng, said that the defendants had no previous criminal records and were passionate about politics and social issues, AFP reported. Cheung added that it would be "unfair to the defendants if a deterrent sentence is imposed based on the political atmosphere".

They were facing possible two-year jail sentence but after the court ordered for a report on their eligibility for community service, lighter sentencing was expected.

The three men maintained that they had no regrets over their actions. Wong was quoted by the New York Times as saying "It is a long-term battle for us." The sentence "will not affect my persistence and my courage in the social movement." he added.

On 26 September 2014, they entered a blocked area outside the government headquarters called civic square, which triggered a 79-day protest. The movement brought the former British colony to a complete stand still for almost three months as they called on Beijing to grant fully free elections.

A large part of the public in Hong Kong feels that the chief executive should be chosen by a democratic vote, as opposed to the current process, where chief executive is elected by a 1,200 member election committee. The executive is also viewed as someone who is largely pro Beijing.

Hong Kong student leaders
Student leaders (from L) Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow pose before a verdict, on charges of inciting and participating in an illegal assembly in 2014 which led to the "Occupy Central" pro-democracy movement, outside a court in Hong Kong July 21, 2016 [File Photo] REUTERS/Bobby Yip