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Jimmy Lai in Hong Kong in 2020 (CNS/Tyrone Siu, Reuters)

The trial of Jimmy Lai, the Catholic activist and newspaper publisher, opened in Hong Kong yesterday, launching what is expected to be a protracted legal battle capping several years of imprisonment for the embattled pro-democracy advocate. Source: CNA.

Mr Lai has been an outspoken advocate of human rights and democratic freedoms in Hong Kong for years. He founded the tabloid Apple Daily in 1995, which took a strong pro-democracy stance in the administrative region.

The activist was originally arrested in August 2020 under that year’s controversial national security law, which was passed by China’s communist-controlled government. The law sharply curtailed free speech in the region in an effort to quash what the Chinese Communist Party considered subversion and sedition in the separately administered region of Hong Kong.

Mr Lai was accused of colluding with foreign adversaries and conspiracy to defraud. The law’s harsh penalties include life in prison for what the government deems sedition or terrorism, including acts such as damaging public transport facilities. 

He has spent more than 1000 days in prison since his arrest. His imprisonment has drawn sharp rebukes and calls for clemency from supporters including Catholic bishops. 

A Catholic convert, Mr Lai has been vocal in his faith. He was baptised and received into the Church by Cardinal Joseph Zen, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, in 1997. 

The start of Mr Lai’s trial in Hong Kong sees the activist facing charges of foreign collusion and the publication of seditious materials under the national security law. He faces a potential life sentence if convicted. 


Trial begins for Jimmy Lai, Hong Kong Catholic activist imprisoned for 3 years (By Daniel Payne, CNA)