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Romanian and French Politicians Call For Jimmy Lai’s Release

Updated: Jan 30

20 December 2023 - Politicians in Romania and France have urged for the immediate release of pro-democracy campaigner Jimmy Lai after his National Security Law trial began in Hong Kong on Monday.

The two parliamentarians, both members of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), gave speeches condemning the sham trial and detention of Lai and the injustice of the Hong Kong authorities' persecution of 76-year-old former owner of the Apple Daily newspaper. Lai has been accused of three conspiracy charges relating to sedition and collusion with foreign forces.

Cătălin Teniță, a member of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies for the Save Romania Union party, raised the issue of Jimmy Lai's “Stalinist-style trial by the Chinese Communist regime”, whilst holding an image of Lai in the chamber. He slammed the trial as “a mockery of justice,” and pleaded with his colleagues to “stand in solidarity to end this farce”.

Olivier Cadic, a member of the French Senate and the Vice President for the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Armed Forces asked French Minister of State Chrysoula Zacharopoulou: “Several countries have called on the Hong Kong authorities to put an end to the prosecution of Jimmy Lai and to free him. What is the position of France?”

Zacharopoulou admitted that: "The human rights situation in Hong Kong is very worrying. Three years after the adoption of the national security law in July 2020, the results are clear: we are witnessing a worrying erosion of democracy and a systematic dismantling of rights and freedoms."

They join a string of parliamentarians speaking out against Lai’s sham trial. On Friday 15 December the Canadian House of Commons passed a motion calling for Lai’s immediate release and in the British House of Commons on Tuesday, Foreign Minister for the Indo-Pacific Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP declared that “Jimmy Lai is indeed a British citizen,” and added that the Government “is unequivocally clear that Jimmy is released immediately and the National Security Law is abhorrent”. 

The hand-picked judges have adjourned the trial to consider a decision on a separate charge of sedition. The trial is expected to continue on Friday.

Mark Sabah, Director of the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation said:  

“The voices of condemnation from around the world are growing. This should be an absolute embarrassment to Hong Kong and especially to the Hong Kong authorities who are pursuing this nonsense prosecution. If they want to keep any vestige of their credibility intact, they should immediately release Jimmy Lai and every other political prisoner being held for National Security Law “offenses”.”

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