Updated: Mar 23
22 March 2023 – Today in the British Parliament, the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong (CFHK) Foundation’s President, Mark Clifford, gave testimony about Jimmy Lai, the closure of Apple Daily, and the crushing of media freedoms in Hong Kong.
The hearing was held by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Hong Kong as part of their open inquiry on Hong Kong’s media freedoms. Led by Co-Chair of the APPG on Hong Kong Alistair Carmichael MP, Co-Chair Baroness Natalie Bennett, Vice Chair Lord David Alton, and Vice Chair Tom Randall MP, the session took evidence from several speakers, which will be used to form a report with recommendations for the British government on future Hong Kong-related decisions. The CFHK Foundation also submitted written evidence.
Mark Clifford started his testimony by sharing his experiences as a former board member of Apple Daily’s parent company Next Digital and a close colleague of Jimmy Lai. Following Hong Kong’s passage of the National Security Law on 30 June 2020, Mr Clifford recalled how Hong Kong police raided the Apple Daily newsroom in August 2020, perp-walking Mr Lai and arresting him and other Apple Daily executives. As of today, Mr Lai has been in prison for 812 days.
The other speakers included Caoilfhionn Gallagher, KC, Jimmy Lai’s lead international lawyer; Carmen Lau, former Hong Kong District Councillor; Benedict Rogers, co-founder and Chief Executive of Hong Kong Watch; and Fiona O’Brien, UK Director for Reporters Without Borders. Every witness called attention to the British government’s overwhelming silence on the case of Jimmy Lai and the dismantling of Hong Kong’s most basic civil liberties.
Mark Clifford urged the UK government to release a robust statement in support of Mr Lai’s immediate release. Mr Clifford also called for the British government to sanction Hong Kong officials who have abused the National Security Law. Finally, Mr Clifford recommended that the UK government should warn British businesses that they are also at risk of coming under attack by the Hong Kong authorities under the National Security Law.
Caoilfhionn Gallagher, KC, Jimmy Lai’s lead international lawyer, declared, “What we see here is a man [Jimmy Lai] behind bars and who will die behind bars, unless more is done for his case.” All speakers urged the British government to take strong action to immediately release Jimmy Lai from prison.
Mark Clifford, the CFHK Foundation’s President, said:
“Companies should notice how the erratic application of the National Security Law has transformed Hong Kong’s political environment. British businesses must make a choice, just as the British government must make a choice regarding whether it will do more to support the immediate release of British citizen Jimmy Lai. We will continue to urge the British government to place pressure on the Chinese Communist Party and Hong Kong authorities to release Jimmy Lai and all political prisoners unjustly detained in Hong Kong.”