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World Press Freedom Day: Free Jimmy Lai and Detained Journalists Around the World

3 May 2023 – To mark the thirtieth anniversary of World Press Freedom Day, politicians, activists, and journalists* joined the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation in a video to call for the release of Hong Kong journalist Jimmy Lai and to free wrongfully detained reporters around the globe.


The Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation Monday staged large-scale wall projections on London’s Canary Wharf to highlight the continued detention of Mr Lai, a British citizen, in Hong Kong. The projections also featured other jailed journalists: Australian-Chinese journalist Cheng Lei, Iranian journalist Niloofar Hamedi, French-Afghan journalist Mortaza Behboudi, American journalist Evan Gershkovich (who is detained in Russia), and Ethiopian journalist Meskerem Abera. These journalists are being held simply because they dared to report the truth.



In addition to these six, hundreds of other journalists remain behind bars. At the end of 2022, there were363 jailed journalists, 65 held hostage, and 49 missing. Fifty-seven journalists were killed in 2022.


Reporters Without Borders’ launched its 2023World Press Freedom Index today. At the bottom of the list, alongside North Korea, China ranks 179th out of 180 countries. China is the largest jailer of journalists, detaining 102 within its borders.


Hong Kong’s press environment is almost as bad, ranking 140th, largely due to the Chinese Communist Party’s crushing application of the National Security Law since June 2020. Hong Kong’s once-vibrant media landscape continues to decline as journalists are threatened, silenced, and jailed.


The Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation’s President, Mark Clifford, said:


“On a day that should celebrate press freedom, it is sobering that we find ourselves in a world that is increasingly hostile for journalists. There is no reason any government should be holding the truth captive in the twenty-first century, and it is mind-blowing that today’s World Press Freedom Index shows more danger for journalists than ever before.


“On this World Press Freedom Day, the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation calls on British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to publicly commit to work for British citizen Jimmy Lai’s release and to declare Lai’s freedom a foreign policy priority for Foreign Secretary James Cleverly. A public campaign by the highest levels of the British government will serve notice on China that London will not tolerate Beijing’s continuing violations of the Sino-British agreement, the 1984 treaty that agreed on the handover of the British colony following China’s promise that the territory’s freedoms would continue unmolested.”


*Tim Loughton MP, Lord David Alton, US Congressman Mike Gallagher, Baroness Helena Kennedy, Samuel Bickett, US Senator Marco Rubio, Tatyana Eatwell, Christine Jardine MP, Frances Hui, Jeremy Balfour MSP, Joey Siu, Ross Holder, Chloe Cheung, Jane Werrell, Catherine Li, Chakra Ip, Caoilfhionn Gallagher KC, Mark Clifford, Alicia Kearns MP, Benedict Rogers, Azzurra Moores, Cat Lucas, Dalia Nasreddin, Fiona O'Brien, Megan Khoo, and Sebastien Lai.

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