Hong Kong’s Jimmy Lai faces new sentence over democracy protests | China News


The media tycoon is already serving a 14-month sentence for participating in unauthorised assemblies.

Jimmy Lai, the jailed Hong Kong media tycoon and prominent supporter of democracy, is expected to receive a new prison sentence over his role in a demonstration on October 1, 2019, when pro-democracy protests swept the city.

This month, Lai and nine other activists pleaded guilty to organising an unauthorised assembly. The nine include activists Lee Cheuk-yan, Figo Chan and Leung Kwok-hung, who is known in Hong Kong as Long Hair.

They are expected to be sentenced on Friday.

Lai is already serving a 14-month term for participating in similar demonstrations on August 18 and August 31, 2019.

He has been in jail since December after being denied bail in a separate trial under the national security law.

He faces three charges under the new legislation, imposed by China in 2020 in response to the protests, including alleged collusion with a foreign country.

Lai’s repeated arrests have drawn criticism from Western governments and international rights groups, who raised concerns over waning freedoms in the semi-autonomous territory, including freedom of speech and assembly.

“Your Honour, for over 40 years I have strived for democratic reform in China,” Lee told the court this week during one of the hearings. “This is my unrequited love, the love for my country with such a heavy heart.”

Beijing sees him as a traitor and an anti-China instigator.

China says the broadly worded security law, which punishes anything Beijing considers subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison, is vital to restore stability and prosperity.

Earlier this month, authorities froze assets belonging to Lai, including bank accounts and his 71.26 percent stake in media publisher Next Digital.

Hong Kong’s security chief sent letters to Lai and branches of HSBC and Citibank this month threatening bankers with as many as seven years in prison for any dealings with the billionaire’s accounts in the city, according to documents seen by the Reuters news agency.

The moves could imperil any attempt by the tycoon to bring offshore assets back home and prop up Next Digital’s Apple Daily tabloid, a staunch critic of the government, one of Lai’s financial advisers said.



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