Bubble-tea shop owners jailed after publishing anti-vaccination messages online. An IT worker arrested over posting the political slogan "Liberate Hong Kong” on social media. A 67-year-old apprehended simply for applauding a court defendant.

Ever since Beijing imposed a national security law on the city in 2020, these acts have been considered crimes in the former British colony, which once protected free speech.

Yet now, after a Hong Kong court last December expanded the scope of the statute, authorities are increasingly prosecuting them under a colonial sedition law that hadn’t be used for decades.