The United Kingdom and United States on Sunday called for the release of Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai, the former owner of the defunct Hong Kong newspaper. Apple Daily. He is being tried to this day on charges of “conspiring with foreign powers to endanger national security.” He could face life imprisonment if convicted under a national security law imposed by China three years ago.
London and Washington described Lai’s trial as “politically motivated.” British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said in a statement that the trial was a violation of agreements reached when Hong Kong was handed over to China in 1997.
“Hong Kong’s national security law is a clear violation of the Sino-British Joint Declaration. It has harmed Hong Kong, significantly eroding its rights and freedoms. Arrests under the law have silenced voices of opposition,” Cameron said.
According to the minister, Lai’s trial is a clear attempt to deprive him of his “right to freedom of expression.” In the statement, Cameron called for Lai’s release. “I call on the Hong Kong authorities to end their trial and release Jimmy Lai.”
The US State Department echoed Cameron’s views, also urging Lai’s immediate release on Sunday. “Actions that undermine press freedom and restrict the free flow of information have undermined Hong Kong’s democracy and damaged Hong Kong’s reputation as an international business centre,” spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.
Jimmy Lai, 76 years old, is one of the most prominent activists in Hong Kong. He was arrested in 2020 because of his critical, independent, and pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily According to the Chinese government, it encouraged other countries to impose sanctions on China, thus violating the newly introduced national security law. The newspaper has now been banned by the Chinese government.
Lai’s trial is being closely watched around the world amid concerns about Beijing’s growing influence over Hong Kong, a former British colony. China has not yet responded to the calls of the United States and the United Kingdom.
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