Hong Kong News

Nonpartisan, Noncommercial, unconstrained.
Thursday, Feb 09, 2023

Jimmy Lai’s global legal team urges US to pressure China at UN

Jimmy Lai’s global legal team urges US to pressure China at UN

An international team of lawyers working for jailed Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying are calling on Western governments to make his upcoming national security trial a greater foreign policy priority, as Beijing curtails freedoms in the financial hub.
Lawyers for Lai, whose pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily was closed last year under a pressure campaign by security police, said they wanted the European Union, UK and US to pressure Hong Kong and China over the case. The call comes as world leaders descend on New York this month for the UN General Assembly debate.

“This is a key time for the US to ensure that this case is raised as a very high priority bilaterally in engagement with Hong Kong and China,” Caoilfhionn Gallagher, a member of Lai’s international team, said in an interview Wednesday in Washington. She said that group was distinct from the lawyers who’ll argue his case in a Hong Kong court.

The global team’s goal is to get foreign governments to convince Chinese authorities to drop the charges against Lai, said Gallagher, who has previously acted on behalf of journalist and Nobel Laureate Maria Ressa.

Conversations with various international lawmakers already suggested there would be a strong policy response toward China if Lai was convicted, his lawyers said, without providing details. So far, all four people tried under the Beijing-drafted security law have been found guilty.

Lai, 74, and six former Apple Daily employees face sentences as long as life in prison if convicted of colluding with foreign forces under the security law, which Beijing imposed on Hong Kong in June 2020, in the wake of the previous year’s mass anti-government protests. Prosecutors allege that Lai and the other defendants sought international sanctions against Hong Kong and China through his pro-democracy newspaper.

Gallagher said the legal process Lai faced did “not comply with international human rights standards and, indeed, won’t comply with standards protected under the Basic Law,” referring to Hong Kong’s mini-constitution that enshrines free speech. Lai has been denied bail while awaiting trial and his case will be heard by three national security judges handpicked by the city’s leader.

Lai’s high-profile case has fanned growing concerns about press freedom in the once free-wheeling former British colony. Several pro-democracy media outlets closed in the wake of the security law, which has been used to jail much of the city’s political opposition. Hong Kong fell 68 places year on year to 148th place in Reporters Without Borders’s most recent World Press Freedom Index.

Hong Kong’s most senior officials have said their moves against Apple Daily didn’t undermine press freedom and the paper was not engaging in “normal journalistic work.” The Chinese government’s Liaison Office said “freedom of the press is not a ‘shield’ for illegal activities.”

The US, UK and other Western nations have condemned the closure of Apple Daily and the security law, with President Joe Biden saying Beijing was using it to “suppress independent media and silence dissenting views.” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken previously called for Lai’s release, after a separate conviction related to the activist’s participation in a pro-democracy rally.

“We would expect there to be a robust policy response from the US and other states should this abusive treatment of Mr. Lai continue,” said Jonathan Price, another member of Lai’s international legal team.

The now-closed Apple Daily newspaper, which Lai founded, was one of the city’s most popular media outlets and championed greater freedoms in the Asian financial center before it was targeted by authorities who arrested senior editors, froze its bank accounts and effectively forced it to close in 2021.

Gallagher said the downfall of Apple Daily, which was operated by Lai’s publicly-listed Next Digital Ltd., should serve as a warning to other multinational firms in the financial hub.

“Companies operating in Hong Kong, regardless of what they do, need to look at this case very closely,” she said, adding that the message was: “toe the Beijing line or you’ll be next.”

“What’s happened with Apple Daily is essentially the theft of a $150 million company,” she added, “with impunity and on very short notice.”

Related Articles

Hong Kong News
Today's news from Britain - 9th February 2023
China has declined the US's request for Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to speak with Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe after the US Air Force shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon, according to the Pentagon
The five largest oil companies in the West generated combined profits of nearly $200 billion in 2022, which has led to increased calls for governments to impose tougher windfall taxes
2 earthquakes in Turkey killed over 2,300 people
Powerful Earthquake Strikes Turkey and Syria, Killing More Than 1,300 People.
Turkish photographer Ugur Gallenkus portrays two different worlds within a single image. Brilliant work
Charlie Munger, calls for a ban on cryptocurrencies in the US, following China's lead
Hong Kong airlines taking bold action after the years of pandemic lockdown and travel restrictions, to make Hong Kong great again
EU found a way to use frozen Russian funds
First generation unopened iPhone set to fetch more than $50,000 at auction.
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT - US Memphis Police murdering innocent Tyre Nichols
Almost 30% of professionals say they've tried ChatGPT at work
Interpol seeks woman who ran elaborate exam cheating scam in Singapore
Chinese search giant Baidu to launch ChatGPT like AI chatbot.
What is ChatGPT?
Bill Gates is ‘very optimistic’ about the future: ‘Better to be born 20 years from now...than any time in the past’
China is opening up for foreign investors.
Tesla reported record profits and record revenues for 2022
Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre Photo Is Fake: Ghislaine Maxwell
Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin Gets Married On His 93rd Birthday
Federal Reserve Probes Goldman’s Consumer Business
China's first population drop in six decades
Microsoft is finalising plans to become the latest technology giant to reduce its workforce during a global economic slowdown
China's foreign ministry branch in Hong Kong urges British gov't to stop the biased and double standards Hong Kong report
China relaxes 'red lines' on property sector borrowing in policy pivot
Tesla slashes prices globally by as much as 20 percent
Japan prosecutors indict man for ex-PM Shinzo Abe murder
Vietnam removes two deputy PMs amid anti-corruption campaign
1.4 Million Copies Of Prince Harry's Memoir 'Spare' Sold On 1st Day In UK
After Failing To Pay Office Rent, Twitter May Sell User Names
FIFA president questioned by prosecutors
Britain's Sunak breaks silence and admits using private healthcare
Hype and backlash as Harry's memoir goes on sale. Unnamed royal source says prince 'kidnapped by cult of psychotherapy and Meghan'
China’s recovery could add 1% to Australia’s GDP: JPMorgan 
Saudi Arabia set to overtake India as fastest-growing major economy this year 
China vows to strengthen financial support for enterprises: official
International medical experts speak out against COVID-19 restrictions on China
2 Billion People To Travel In China's "Great Migration" Over Next 40 Days
Google and Facebook’s dominance in digital ads challenged by rapid ascent of Amazon and TikTok
Flight constraints expected to weigh on China travel rebound
Billionaire Jack Ma relinquishes control of Ant Group
FTX fraud investigators are digging deeper into Sam Bankman-Fried's inner circle – and reportedly have ex-engineer Nishad Singh in their sights
Teslas now over 40% cheaper in China than US
TikTok CEO Plans to Meet European Union Regulators
UK chaos: Hong Kong emigrants duped by false prospectus
China seeks course correction in US ties but will fight ‘all forms of hegemony’, top diplomat Wang Yi says
China will boost spending in 2023
African traders welcome end of China’s Covid travel curbs
France has banned the online sale of paracetamol until February, citing ongoing supply issues
Japan reportedly to give families 1 million yen per child to move out of Tokyo