Hong Kong: Jimmy Lai’s national security trial begins

  • 18 Dec 2023

NUJ repeats its call for an end to the journalist’s persecution, urging the withdrawal of all charges.

The National Union of Journalists has joined the International Federation of Journalists in calling for the release of Jimmy Lai, and for an end to his targeting by Hong Kong authorities.

Lai, founder of Apple Daily is charged with sedition and “collusion with foreign forces” in a trial expected to last at least 80 days. The British national faces life imprisonment if convicted in the trial already postponed on three occasions.

Last year, Beijing-appointed Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee requested Beijing intervene in Lai’s sedition trial, raising concerns about the influence of Beijing on Hong Kong.

On 10 August 2020, Lai was arrested on suspicion of fraud and offences under Hong Kong’s National Security Law. The NUJ has previously condemned the restrictions imposed on journalists by the law, expressing concern about its impact on media freedom. Under the law, those convicted of collusion with foreign forces face three to ten years imprisonment, or more than ten years if it is ruled their offence is of a grave nature.

76 year old Lai has already spent over 1000 days in prison, and the IFJ and NUJ are urging Hong Kong authorities to end his persecution. The journalist was convicted of fraud in 2022 after a court found he violated terms of a lease with Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corp.

David Cameron, UK foreign secretary, said “I urge the Chinese authorities to repeal the national security law and end the prosecution of all individuals charged under it. I call on the Hong Kong authorities to end their prosecution and release Jimmy Lai.”

The IFJ said: 

“The use of the draconian National Security Law and archaic sedition legislation to silence critical and independent voices in Hong Kong must cease. The IFJ urges the Hong Kong authorities to conduct an impartial trial, drop all charges against Jimmy Lai, and release him immediately. International governments, civil society, press freedom groups, and media organisations must pay close attention to Lai’s trial and continue to exert pressure for a just verdict.”

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