Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai sentenced to 14 months under National Security Law

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Jimmy Lai, Hong Kong’s media tycoon and pro-democracy activist has been found guilty of organizing and attending unauthorized assembly and has been sentenced to 14 months in prison.

73 year old Lai was one of many activists who were found guilty over charges relating to 2019 mass pro-democracy protests. Mr. Lai, founder of Apple Daily tabloid is known to be Beijing’s fierce critic who never shied away from raising voice against China.

The verdict involving several activists was given on Friday as China continues to increasingly crack down on rights and freedoms of people of Hong Kong under the controversial National Security Law. The activists were sentenced for participating in two protests – 18 August and 31 August 2019.

Apple Daily newspaper had published a hand-written letter from jail by Jimmy Lai, its founder. It read, “It is our responsibility as journalists to seek justice. As long as we are not blinded by unjust temptations, as long as we do not let evil get its way through us, we are fulfilling our responsibility.”

Lai has been sentenced to period of 12 months for demonstrations on August 18, and another 8 months for 31 August. The judge has ordered Mr Lai to be sentenced concurrently, except for 2 months. Mr. Lai has been further charged on six counts. Two of these have been imposed under the National Security Law. These charges can lead to Lai serving life term, and chances are prosecutors can file further charges against him.

The activists who have been sentenced for protests on 18 and 31 August are:

For 18 August

  • Jimmy Lai – 12 months
  • Lee Cheuk-yan – 12 months
  • Leung Kwok-hung – 18 months
  • Au Nok-hin – 10 months
  • Cyd Ho – 8 months
  • Martin Lee – 11 months, suspended
  • Albert Ho – one year, suspended
  • Margaret Ng – one year, suspended
  • Leung Yiu-chung – 8 months, suspended
  • For 31 August
  • Jimmy Lai – additional 2 months
  • Lee Cheuk-yan – additional 2 months
  • Yeung Sum – 8 months, suspended

The National Security Law was imposed by mainland China on Hong Kong last year that puts secession and subversion as acts of terrorism. The law has led to severe crackdown across the territory. Earlier this month, Beijing overtook Hong Kong’s electoral system, under which only “patriots” would be permitted to occupy federal offices.

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