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Reporters Without Borders Advocate For The Release Of Jimmy Lai From Prison In Hong Kong

An open letter to the government of Hong Kong was published barring Lai from having foreign lawyers to represent him.

Editors and journalist have called for the immediate release of British media mogul, Jimmy Lai, in an open letter to the government of Hong Kong.

Demands for the charges to be dropped have included notable names including The Guardian Editor-In-Chief Katharine Viner and Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa. 

Police stand guard as pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai (not pictured) arrived in a correctional services van at the high court in Hong Kong on December 1, 2022, for the start of his national security trial. – A closely watched trial of jailed pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai under Hong Kong’s national security law was delayed on December 1 as the government asked Beijing to bar Lai from being represented by a British lawyer. ISAAC LAWRENCE/GETTY IMAGES

In 2022, Lai was arrested by the Hong Kong government for alleged collusion with forces and fraud. Lai was organizing illegal protests in Hong Kong while supporters say it was politically motivated.

Others who were arrest in association with Lai included, Joshua Wong, Gwyneth Ho, and Owen Chow who are regarded as political prisoners.

Lai was the owner of the newspaper, The Apple Daily, a liberal newspaper that was centered on pro-democracy and was shut down by the Chinese Communist Party. He was a major critic of China’s ruling party.

“Now it is our time to stand up for Jimmy Lai,” said Rebecca Vincent, Director of Campaigns for RSF, a non-profit that fights for worldwide freedom of press. (Publisher, editors-in-chief and senior editors from around the world have joined RSF to sign a common statement expressing support for Jimmy Lai and calling for his immediate release from Hong Kong.”

Lai faced criminal charges on unauthorized assembly that included August and October 2018 rallies in Hong Kong and one in Tiananmen Square in 2020 commemorating the 1989 massacre. Fraud charges included violations of his terms of his office space under his media entity of Next Digital along with two other executives.

Next Digital was parent company of Apple Daily and Next Magazine that had a readership of 20 million readers that included Hong Kong, Taiwan, the United States, and Canada. It was regarded as the largest media company in Hong Kong.

The media mogul is a British citizen, but was born in Canton, Republic of China. He moved to Hong Kong at the age of 12 in stowaway boat. Lai is regarded as the icon of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy.

Supporters for Lai have criticized the British government not doing enough to advocate for his release.

“We cannot accept the status quo. We must hold China accountable, and let Hong Kong be Hong Kong. The Chinese Communist Party’s authoritarianism is one of the biggest threats to the world order and democracy, alongside other bad actors like Russia, Burma and Iran,” said Frances Hui, a Policy and Advocacy Coordinator for the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation.

Lai was represented by other UK-based lawyers to handle his case. The government of Hong Kong passed a law to ban foreign lawyers working on national security cases.

It would bar Lai from engaging with his British lawyer, Tim Owen, from attending his trial in Hong Kong. 


News Credit: The Guardian

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