Hong Kong: Next Digital founder arrested on illegal assembly charge

Jimmy Lai, media tycoon and the founder of Next Digital, was arrested by Hong Kong authorities on April 18 and charged for his role in the unlawful assembly during the Hong Kong protests in late 2019. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) urge authorities to drop all charges against Jimmy Lai.

Arrested on April 18 on illegal assembly charges: Martin Lee, Jimmy Lai, Albert Ho, Raphael Wong, Au Nok Hin, Lee Cheuk Yan, Leung Kwok Hung, Jimmy Sham. Credit: Twitter

Jimmy Lai was arrested at his house and taken to Central District police station in relation to the demonstrations last year on August 18, 2019 and October 1, 2019. Between August and October 2019, regular protests were held against the now removed proposal to allow authorities to extradite people from Hong Kong to mainland China. Thirteen other pro-democracy figures, arrested by police on April 18, are due to appear in court in May.

According to South China Morning Post, pan-democrat legislators said the politically motivated arrests were a response to accusations made by three Beijing authorities that the pro-democracy figures were involved in disrupting legislative proceedings.

Jimmy Lai, known to be critical of the Hong Kong government, was arrested earlier this year, on February 28 on the same charges, sparking concern over the Hong Kong authority’s selective law enforcement. Throughout 2019, numerous attacks on reporters employed by Next Media were documented by the IFJ, however, no arrests were made in relation to these incidents.  

IFJ said: “The IFJ is concerned that the Hong Kong authorities have continued to pursue charges against Jimmy Lai, which are clearly aimed at discrediting him and his media outlets for their critical reports on the 2019 protests. This silencing of expression and the public’s right to know is not acceptable.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on [email protected]

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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