Hong Kong: Media tycoon Jimmy Lai jailed for 14 months

Jimmy Lai, founder of the media group Next Digital, was sentenced to 14 months in prison on April 16 for organising unauthorized assemblies in late August, 2019. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) strongly condemns the sentencing of Lai and calls for his immediate release.

Jimmy Lai arrives at the Court of Final Appeal in Hong Kong for a bail hearing on February 9, 2021. Credit: ISAAC LAWRENCE / AFP

On April 1, Jimmy Lai Chee-ying and six other pro-democracy campaigners were found guilty of organising and taking part in an ‘unauthorised assembly’ on August 18, 2019.

On April 7, Lai, along with Lee Cheuk-yan, the general secretary of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, and Yeung Sum, a local legislator, pleaded guilty for taking part in an ‘unauthorised assembly’ on August 31, 2019.

It was the first time that Lai, who has been detained since December in a separate national security trial, received a prison sentence. In addition to Lai, the other nine pro-democracy campaigners received jail time or suspended sentences for taking part in the ‘unauthorised assemblies’.

The two protests in August 2019 were part of a series of demonstrations and assemblies in protest against police brutality and the now withdrawn anti-extradition law.

A critic of the Chinese Communist Party’s encroachment on Hong Kong’s autonomy and civil liberty, Lai has faced repeated arrests and prosecutions over the past year for his involvement in the 2019 protest movement and democratic activism. Lai has also been charged with collusion with foreign forces under the national security law and accused of conspiracy to assist an offender and fraud.

The IFJ said: “Freedom of expression and assembly are enshrined principles in the Sino-British Joint Declaration and Hong Kong’s Basic Law. The sentencing and punishment of pro-democracy leaders who took part in peaceful demonstrations is a clear attack on the fundamental rights of the people of Hong Kong. The IFJ calls for all charges against Lai to be dropped and demands he be released immediately."

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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