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British Citizen Jimmy Lai Appeals Hong Kong High Court Rejection of British Lawyer

Updated: Aug 1, 2023

7 June 2023 – Jimmy Lai filed a legal bid to challenge the High Court of Hong Kong’s rejection of his prior appeal to overturn the Hong Kong Committee for Safeguarding National Security (CSNS) decision to prevent British barrister Timothy Owen from obtaining future visas to Hong Kong and thus defending British citizen Jimmy Lai.

Jimmy Lai’s repeated appeals coincide with a controversial debate over whether foreign counsel can participate in National Security Law cases in Hong Kong. In May, the High Court of Hong Kong denied an appeal from Jimmy Lai to repeal the CSNS ruling which would effectively bar Mr Lai from his lawyer of choice. The court declared that “Hong Kong courts do not have jurisdiction over the national security committee’s work”. This followed a CSNS statement in April that declared how allowing London-based lawyer Timothy Owen to defend Jimmy Lai would likely pose a risk "contrary to the interests of national security".

Recently, Jimmy Lai’s legal team also submitted a legal bid to terminate Mr Lai’s national security trial on the grounds that there is an "apparent bias" and "lack of transparency" in his case. The Hong Kong government said that there is no evidence the CSNS has acted in bad faith and reaffirmed that the judges who will determine the fate of Mr Lai were recommended by an "independent advisory body".

The 75-year-old Mr Lai has been behind bars for 888 days and faces multiple charges under the National Security Law. His trial is expected to begin in September.

Mark Clifford, President of the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation, said:

"We will continue to support Jimmy Lai’s efforts to challenge the baseless decisions of the Hong Kong authorities. Hong Kong can claim that there is no bias in Jimmy Lai’s case, but the fact that he is being held behind bars shows otherwise. The Chinese Communist Party is the real lawbreaker and an innocent man who speaks the truth is in jail."

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