8 December 2023 – Today marks British citizen Jimmy Lai’s 76th birthday and 1073 consecutive days in prison. Jimmy Lai is a businessman who founded the Apple Daily and its parent company Next Digital, a Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper and media outlet forcibly shut by the government. Lai is one of Hong Kong’s most high-profile, outspoken critics of the Chinese Communist Party.
Jimmy Lai has been behind bars since 31 December 2020. In addition to an ongoing sentence for trumped-up fraud charges, Lai earlier served a 20-month prison sentence for participating in peaceful protests in 2019 and 2020 including lighting a candle to commemorate the Tiananmen Square Massacre, something which is now banned in Hong Kong.
Jimmy Lai’s National Security Law trial is due to begin on Monday 18th December. Expectations for a free and fair hearing with an independent judiciary are low, and Lai faces a possible life sentence especially as National Security cases have a 100% conviction rate.
The Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation (CFHK Foundation) urges British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary David Cameron to publicly call for the release of one of their citizens, a non-violent dissident who has been imprisoned for over three years because he fought for human rights and democracy.
Mark Sabah, Director of the CFHK Foundation, said:
"It’s tragic that Jimmy Lai spends another year in prison and his birthday only highlights the human cost of being separated from his family members. The fact that the Hong Kong authorities are keeping a 76 year old man in solitary confinement, shows how afraid they are of people speaking up against Beijing, the CCP and the crackdown on Hong Kong’s civil liberties. We want Jimmy to know that we have not forgotten about him, that we are still fighting for his freedom.”