Hong Kong: Jimmy Lai convicted of fraud

  • 07 Nov 2022

The NUJ has joined the International Federation of Journalists in condemning the persecution of Jimmy Lai by Hong Kong authorities.

The founder of Apple Daily has been convicted of fraud following judge Stanley Chan Kwong-chi’s finding that Lai hid information about subletting part of his newspaper’s office headquarters between 2016 and 2020 to a secretarial firm he owned, violating agreements with the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corp.

Lai is currently serving a 20 month sentence for his role in organising unauthorised demonstrations against police brutality. He has faced repeated prosecutions and arrests and will stand trial on 1 December facing charges of collusion with foreign powers under Hong Kong’s national security law.

Mr Lai is represented by an international legal team, led by Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, and including Jonathan Price, Tatyana Eatwell and Jennifer Robinson. They are urging the United Nations to investigate his imprisonment and charges they consider “legal harassment.”

Caoilfhionn Gallagher KC, said:

“Jimmy Lai’s case is deeply concerning in itself: he faces a barrage of spurious legal cases and risks life behind bars, all due to his work as a writer, media owner and peaceful pro-democracy campaigner. His case is also emblematic of wider concerns in Hong Kong: the use of the draconian National Security Law to silence critical voices, the weaponization of a range of other laws to target journalists and peaceful protestors, and the dismantling of the rule of law.

“Mr Lai is a UK national, imprisoned in Hong Kong for speaking truth to power. The multiple prosecutions against him and his imprisonment since August 2020 flagrantly violates international law and international standards, and has attracted widespread international condemnation. We ask the UK Government to treat this case with the urgency it deserves and to speak out in support of its citizen.”

The IFJ said:

“The District Court’s verdict to convict Jimmy Lai on fraud charges sets a grave precedent for his upcoming trial under the draconian national security law. The Hong Kong authorities’ ongoing arbitrary persecution of Lai violates fundamental rights to freedom of expression and freedom of the press. The IFJ urges the authorities to withdraw all charges laid against Lai immediately and release him from prison.”

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