Hong Kong Umbrella Movement leader released on bail

A protester uses a plate to cover a tear gas during clashes with policemen near the Shum Shui Po police station in Hong Kong on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is calling for a peaceful solution to the unrest in Hong Kong amid fears China could use force to quell pro-democracy protests. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
Policemen in riot gear stand on a street as they confront protesters in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is calling for a peaceful solution to the unrest in Hong Kong amid fears China could use force to quell pro-democracy protests. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
A man shouts at policemen as protesters face off with policemen in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is calling for a peaceful solution to the unrest in Hong Kong amid fears China could use force to quell pro-democracy protests. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
Policemen in riot gear stand guard during a face off with protesters in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is calling for a peaceful solution to the unrest in Hong Kong amid fears China could use force to quell pro-democracy protests. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
Policemen in riot gear stand guard during a face off with protesters in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is calling for a peaceful solution to the unrest in Hong Kong amid fears China could use force to quell pro-democracy protests. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
Medical staff and protesters carry an injured man as they face off with policemen near the Shum Shui Po police station in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is calling for a peaceful solution to the unrest in Hong Kong amid fears China could use force to quell pro-democracy protests. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

HONG KONG — A top opposition leader imprisoned on public disorder charges was released on bail Thursday as Hong Kong's government attempts to quell a protest movement that has paralyzed parts of the territory, including its international airport, and led to hundreds of arrests.

Benny Tai was sentenced to 16 months as one of nine leaders of a 2014 drive for universal suffrage known as the Umbrella Movement. He was allowed to return home on $12,755 cash bail but barred from leaving Hong Kong.

The 2014 movement fizzled, its demands unmet and leaders arrested. However, it laid the groundwork for the new protest movement that began in June with mass opposition to extradition legislation but has since encompassed more sweeping democratic demands.

Flights at Hong Kong's airport have mostly resumed after being mass demonstrations and spasms of violence on Monday and Tuesday. Police made five arrests Tuesday night.

Those clashes highlighted the hardening positions of pro-democracy protesters and the authorities.

While the movement's supporters still have street protests planned, it's unclear what their next move is.

More than 700 protesters have been arrested since early June. Police and the government have pledged to bring all "culprits" to justice and to take "relentless enforcement action to bring the persons involved to justice."

Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific said it had canceled 272 flights, affecting more than 55,000 passengers and had fired two pilots in an apparent response to their involvement in activity related to pro-democracy protests. They included one pilot who is "currently involved in legal proceedings." The airline said earlier this week one of its pilots has been charged with rioting after being arrested during a protest.

It said the second fired pilot "misused company information," but gave no other details. The Hong Kong Free Press reported the pilot posted a photo of a cockpit screen on an online forum used by protesters.

The airport disruptions grew from a summer of demonstrations aimed at what many Hong Kong residents see as an increasing erosion of the freedoms they were promised in 1997 when Communist Party-ruled mainland China took over what had been a British colony.

Must Read

Britain's May seeks out new trading relations post-Brexit

Sep 4, 2016

British Prime Minister Theresa May says she intends to seize new trading opportunities for a...

Obama and Putin meet in China amid struggle for Syria deal

Sep 5, 2016

US, Russia struggle to keep alive negotiations to end the bloodshed between U.S.-backed rebels

Leader of Chinese protest village gets 3 years in jail

Sep 9, 2016

The democratically elected mayor of a fishing village in southern China _ which became a focus of...

Taiwan loses diplomatic ally in move welcomed by Beijing

Dec 21, 2016

Taiwan has condemned the African island nation of Sao Tome and Principe's "abrupt" move to break...

China resumes ties with Sao Tome in triumph over Taiwan

Dec 26, 2016

China and Sao Tome and Principe have officially resumed diplomatic relations after the African...