A Hong Kong court on Saturday sentenced five speech therapists to 19 months in jail for sedition over a series of illustrated children’s books that portrayed the city’s democracy supporters as sheep defending their village from wolves, Reuters reported.

Prosecutors said the animals were analogies for Hong Kong residents and Chinese authorities. The books, they argued, were aimed at “inciting readers’ hatred against the mainland authorities”.

Lorie Lai, Melody Yeung, Sidney Ng, Samuel Chan and Marco Fong, aged between 26 and 29, had pleaded not guilty for publishing three books.

But Judge Kwok Wai Kin sided with the prosecution, saying that the group had to be punished for sowing the “seed[s] of instability” in the city and across China, The South China Morning Post reported.

The five defendants have already been jailed for more than a year while awaiting a verdict. The group could be released in 31 days after deductions for time served, one of their lawyers estimated.

“When are you going to leave the prison of your mind?” Kwok asked them during the hearing, while acknowledging they could soon leave jail. “Have you really put the true records of events in your picture books? Have you really put the truth before the children?”

He also added that the books were “a brainwashing exercise” and there was clear evidence of fear, hatred and discontent being instilled in children’s minds.