Three students who have led protests for greater democracy in Hong Kong were denied permission to travel to Beijing to meet with China's top officials.

Eason Chung, a member of a student group that played a main role in organizing street protests that started nearly two months ago, said Friday he and two others bought plane tickets.

They arrived at the Hong Kong airport on Saturday greeted by well-wishers. But they were denied boarding permits because their return permits were invalidated.

They had intended to head straight to China's legislature to seek talks with Premier Li Keqiang and others.

The protesters oppose Beijing's decision that a panel screen candidates for the territory's inaugural 2017 elections.