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NEWSLETTER: Jimmy Lai trial delayed as Hong Kong asks Beijing to block Lai’s choice of lawyer

Updated: Jan 9

NEWSLETTER: Jimmy Lai trial delayed as Hong Kong asks Beijing to block Lai’s choice of lawyer​​

Welcome to the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation weekly newsletter. ​ Every week, this newsletter will bring you the latest updates and developments concerning freedom in Hong Kong. To subscribe to our newsletter, click here.

Committee News ​ It has been a busy week for the Committee for Freedom in Hong KongFoundation (CFHK Foundation) in the global media. From Cardinal Joseph Zen and Jimmy Lai to the UK’s position on China and the recent protests in China, CFHK Foundation staff spoke out. Following a Hong Kong court charging Cardinal Zen for helping pro-democracy protesters, CFHK Foundation’s Frances Hui told the Hong Kong Free Press how she recalled him as a very gentle and caring figure. “He taught us at a young age, ‘Fret not, for God has his plans.’ That built up my confidence in life. Some of my acquaintances who aren’t religious are moved by his dedication. He could have stepped back, but he stayed true to his words even at such an old age,” she said. Damian Green MP and CFHK Foundation’s Mark Clifford urged Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary James Cleverly to “grapple with how to respond to China’s increasingly erratic aggression.” In The Times Red Box, they wrote that it is now “vital that democratic countries remain committed to holding China to account, now is the perfect time for Sunak to harden the government’s position on China.” CFHK Foundation’s Tara Joseph told the Financial Times that the appeal from Beijing to block Timothy Owen from defending Jimmy Lai “goes exactly against the grain of what the Hong Kong government preaches about the city’s unique qualities. Hong Kong has always said it was open to international barristers and judges. This just flies in the face of that ideal it espoused.” CFHK Foundation’s Mark Clifford told Japan Forward that Jimmy Lai’s trial “holds little hope for justice” and will become “another marker in the dismantling of the rule of law in Hong Kong.” Jimmy Lai Hong Kong’s top court dismissed an appeal by the government to overturn an earlier court decision allowing a UK barrister to defend pro-democracy activist and media tycoon Jimmy Lai in his upcoming national security trial. Bloomberg reported that the Hong Kong Department of Justice sought to ban overseas lawyers from taking part in national security cases, after losing twice in blocking Tim Owen KC from representing Mr Lai. Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee then appealed directly to China’s National People’s Congress to block allowing Jimmy Lai to be represented by UK lawyer Tim Owen. Commenting in the National Review, CFHK Foundation’s Mark Clifford stated “After three consecutive Hong Kong court decisions affirming Jimmy Lai’s right to choose his own counsel, John Lee is now asking his masters in Beijing to disregard the high court. His attempt to deny choice of counsel is unprecedented and should remove any doubt that the rule of law in Hong Kong is dead.” On Thursday, the trial was adjourned until the 13th December as Tim Owen’s application for an extension of his work visa was withheld by Hong Kong authorities.