Editors, journalists from around the world urge Hong Kong to release Jimmy Lai
More than 100 journalists and editors have called on Hong Kong authorities for immediate release of Jimmy Lai, a media tycoon who ran Apple Daily, a pro-democracy newspaper in Hong Kong. The journalists and editors have signed an open letter. Jimmy Lai is currently in detainment and faces charges of violating Hong Kong's national security law which is seen by critics as a tool at the hand of China to suppress pro-democracy sentiment in Hong Kong. Apple Daily was forced to close in 2021 by authorities. Jimmy Lai is a longtime critic of the Chinese Communist Party.
Lai (75) was first arrested in 2020. He was charged with violating the national security law in August 2020. He has already been convicted on separate charges of fraud and organising illegal protests. His trial pertaining to national security law is due in September.
“We, as publishers and editors of news media organisations from around the world, are united in support of Apple Daily founder and publisher Jimmy Lai, and his fight for media pluralism and press freedom in Hong Kong," said signatories to the letter, which was organised by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
“Jimmy Lai has stood for these values his entire life…In a tremendous act of courage, he chose to stay in Hong Kong and continued to publish as long as he could, despite the severe crackdown taking place around him.”
In RSF's World Press Freedom Index 2023, Hong Kong is ranked 140th out of 180 countries. It has dropped 58 places in last 10 years.
People of Hong Kong protested in 2019-20 against government's attempts to introduce a bill to amend Fugitive Offenders Ordinance. Hong Kong withdrew the bill. But what began as sit-in protest soon turned confrontational and violent. Authorities in Hong Kong resorted to a crackdown. In 2020, Hong Kong authorities decided to promulgate national security law. More than a hundred people till now have been arrested under the law.