PRESS RELEASE: Jimmy Lai’s lawyers request meeting with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak demanding action over his false imprisonment
Tuesday 10th January – Ahead of British citizen Jimmy Lai’s national security trial in Hong Kong later this year, Jimmy Lai’s international legal team has written a letter to request a meeting with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. The UK-based legal team has previously requested meetings with two consecutive foreign ministers, the first request was rejected while the second went unanswered. Earlier this month, the UK government agreed for the legal team to meet a minister from the foreign office but no meeting has materialised.
Mr Lai is a well-known entrepreneur and campaigner who founded the now-defunct pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily. Mr Lai’s crime in the eyes of the CCP is his promotion of democratic values.
In December 2022, the national security trial of Jimmy Lai was postponed until September 2023. This is part of a continuing perversion of justice that has seen Mr Lai already held for two years awaiting trial. Following four government losses in local courts, Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee asked Beijing to prohibit Mr Lai from using London-based counsel Tim Owen. The China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee ruled that Hong Kong leader John Lee or the Committee for Safeguarding National Security has the final authority to decide if a foreign lawyer can defend Jimmy Lai. Mr Lai is now unlikely to be represented by London-based barrister Timothy Owen.
Mr Lai’s lawyers are prepared to discuss “potential ways to secure Lai’s release” with the Prime Minister. The letter from Mr Lai’s lawyers calls out how the US government publicly condemned the CCP’s conviction against Mr Lai in October, but how the UK government has remained silent.
The CFHK Foundation wrote to Rishi Sunak in December 2022 calling on him to publicly condemn the sentencing of Jimmy Lai and demanding his immediate release. This was followed by a letter to British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and co-signed by 29 Members of Parliament also calling on him to make a public statement about the sentencing and demanding that he call for Jimmy Lai’s immediate release.
CFHK Foundation President Mark Clifford said:
“Jimmy Lai is a British citizen. The UK government must not only respond to his UK lawyers but support them in their efforts to free him. Every passing day that Mr Lai is in prison is another day of injustice and another day lost for the democratic movement around the world. The British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak should be doing all he can to see the release of Jimmy Lai and demonstrate that he will be a defender of global human rights, justice, and press freedoms."