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Sentencing of Jimmy Lai on a bogus fraud conviction marks the collapse of the rule of law in HK

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

PRESS RELEASE: Sentencing of Jimmy Lai on a bogus fraud conviction marks the collapse of the rule of law in Hong Kong as the city bends to Beijing’s will

10 December 2022 Jimmy Lai has been sentenced to five years and nine months in prison following his conviction for fraud in a contractual dispute in October. This comes after Lai has served 20 months in jail for multiple convictions for his role in pro-democracy protests.

Lai’s sentencing today, as part of the Hong Kong government’s ongoing campaign to eradicate personal liberty and press freedom in the city, precedes his upcoming National Security Law trial. The trial was recently postponed based upon Lai’s British lawyer, Tim Owen KC, having visa issues. However, the Hong Kong government also asked the National People’s Congress Standing Committee to interpret the National Security Law after they failed repeatedly to have Owen barred from representing Lai in court. With the move to involve the Chinese Communist Party, the previously unthinkable, moving sensitive cases to mainland courts, has become an imminent threat.

President of the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation, Mark Clifford, said: “The sentencing of Jimmy Lai on the back of a bogus fraud conviction is a disgrace. The Hong Kong government has dropped all pretence as it pursues its vendetta against a man who sought to do nothing but advance peace and prosperity in Hong Kong. “The lawfare campaign used to attack Mr Lai, systematically dismantling the rule of law in Hong Kong, should be all the evidence the international community needs to condemn Beijing and the authorities in Hong Kong. Instead, they sit in silence. “Hong Kong was once a shining light of press freedom and democracy in the region. That light is now being extinguished. We call on the authorities to immediately release Mr Lai, drop the bogus charges levelled against him, and commit to the restoration of the democratic principles that built Hong Kong into an international city.”

Chairman of the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation, James Cunningham, said: “Today’s sentencing, on International Human Rights Day, is an outrage and a direct provocation to supporters of freedom and human rights around the world. “The CCP believes that democratic governments around the world are too weak and too reliant on China to hold them accountable. Beijing, therefore, acts with impunity, tearing down the rule of law in Hong Kong and locking up a decent man in a campaign founded on fabrication and deceit. “We will not give up on Jimmy and the other political prisoners held in Hong Kong.”

About the CFHK Foundation The Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation presses for political and economic consequences for China’s failure to keep its promises to respect Hong Kong’s freedoms; supports the rule of law, freedom of expression, and the release of political prisoners; and urges the business community to stand against China’s assault on freedom and the danger it poses to Hong Kong’s status as an international financial centre. Hong Kong’s fate is linked to the preservation of freedom, democracy, and international law in the region and around the world.

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