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May 28, 2021

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai was sentenced to an additional 14 months in prison on Friday for his role in organizing a rally during the October 2019 pro-democracy protests in the city, highlighting Beijing’s continued crackdown on dissent in the city.

 

According to the South China Morning Post, six months of the new 14-month sentence will be served concurrently, with Lai’s current 14-month jail term participating in similar protests in August 2019—along with nine other prominent activists—extending his stay in prison to 20 months in total.

Lai has been in jail since December—having been denied bail—on other charges under Hong Kong’s new draconian national security law, which can carry a life sentence.

The prosecutor in Friday’s case noted that Lai’s group had been denied permission to stage their rally and accused him and other defendants of encouraging the public to take part in the protest march on China’s national day.

 

Last month, Lai and eight other people were handed prison sentences for taking part in a separate pro-democracy protest in August 2019. The 73-year-old media tycoon—who founded the pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily—was sentenced to 14 months in prison. Eight other people were handed jail terms, but four of them had their sentences suspended, including 82-year-old former lawmaker Martin Lee, often called Hong Kong’s “father of democracy.” Lee Cheuk-yan, a former lawmaker who helped organize annual candlelight vigils in Hong Kong on the anniversary of Beijing’s crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, was sentenced to 12 months in prison. Two other former lawmakers—Leung Kwok-hung and Cyd Ho—were sentenced to 18 months and eight months prison terms respectively.

In 2019, Lai and the other activists organized mass protests across Hong Kong to oppose a law that would have allowed Hong Kong’s government to detain and extradite people to mainland China. Following the protests, Beijing moved to exert more control on Hong Kong and imposed a new national security law last year that gave the city’s authorities sweeping powers to target political dissidents, and established secret police and a national security council to oversee its implementation. Lai was charged under this law in December and has been accused of collusion with a foreign country.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a statement on Thursday called on Hong Kong authorities to: “release and drop charges against all individuals charged under the National Security Law and other laws merely for standing for election or for expressing dissenting views.”





Source: Forbes
Image Source: Getty Images


-Forbes