Jailed Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai’s son criticises UK government for failing to denounce China | World News

Jimmy Lai, the son of a media mogul and a British citizen jailed in Hong Kong for breaking national security laws, has criticized the British government for failing to speak out against China.

Sebastian Lai, 28, is in London this week to put pressure on the prime minister. Rishi Sink and Secretary of State James cleverness After first requesting a meeting about her father’s imprisonment seven months ago – but hearing nothing.

He told Sky News that the Americans had taken up his father’s case more than the British, even though Mr Lai is a British citizen and passport holder.

The 75-year-old Mr. Lai is pro-democracy. Hong Kong Pepper has been in jail since December 2020 after he was convicted of lease fraud — usually a civil matter that results in a fine, according to Apple Daily.

The billionaire became the first high-profile figure to be indicted under the newly enacted national security law for allegedly conspiring and colluding with foreign forces to “endanger national security”. – Mainly he made pro-democracy statements on Twitter.

Jimmy Lai has been charged and sentenced for a variety of alleged crimes since his first incarceration, including a 15-month sentence for lighting candles and praying while overseeing the Tiananmen Square massacre.

He now faces sentencing in September on national security charges of “collusion with foreign forces,” which carries a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison.

Her son and lawyers believe the outcome will be predetermined by Hong Kong’s government, which they say is the result of Beijing’s decades of targeting her, burning her home and offices and killing her and her family. After giving threats, she wants to make an example of him.

Mr Lai now faces life in prison, where his son admitted he could die, with his supporters calling on the British government to speak out against Beijing.

The media tycoon has held a British passport since 1994 after fleeing China to Hong Kong on a fishing boat aged 13 – and it’s his only passport.

Sebastian Lai is calling the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary to meet him.
Sebastian Lai is calling the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary to meet him.

Her son, who has not seen her since her imprisonment and cannot enter Hong Kong for fear of arrest, is now publicly calling on the British government to step in.

Sebastian Lai said this week’s meeting with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ junior minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan was very welcome but it was only the first step and more needed to happen.

He told Sky News: “The US government has been more vocal about this than the UK government, which is a real shame because my father is a British citizen and he’s standing up for our freedoms in this country at the moment. They are in jail because of this.

“There was radio silence before the meeting with the junior minister, it was a step forward but he needs to do more, he is a British citizen, a British passport holder.

“I’m very disappointed they didn’t say anything about my father’s case.”

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HK police raided the newspaper’s office and arrested the founder.

Senior Tory Sir Iain Duncan Smith, founder of the Inter-Parliamentary Association on China, which brings together MPs from around the world to hold China accountable, raised Mr Lai’s case at Prime Minister’s Questions this week.

The prime minister said Britain must counter “Chinese aggression” and his spokesman later called on Hong Kong authorities to stop targeting “pro-democracy voices, including Jimmy Lai”.

Continued erosion of Hong Kong’s rule of law

Dominic Waghorn - Diplomatic Editor

Dominic Waghorn

International Affairs Editor


China has effectively broken the international agreement that Hong Kong was supposed to have a degree of autonomy after it was handed over from Britain.

His puppet authorities there are now using new security laws to suppress what remains of his freedom and democracy movement.

Infuriatingly, Jimmy Lai has been sentenced to several years in prison for allegedly violating the lease agreement, which has never warranted a custodial sentence.

He has been given 15 months to light a candle in memory of the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre, when hundreds of innocent civilians were killed by the Chinese Communist regime.

He was punished for participating in a pro-democracy demonstration in which hundreds of thousands of people participated.

His company was delisted and assets seized before his full trial later this year.

These judicial abuses are worthy of a banana republic and not a place that still prides itself on applying the rule of law.

The US and other countries have called Hong Kong out over its treatment of Mr Lai and warned their own businesses that it is no longer a safe place to work.

A British citizen holding a British passport has been held against his will for political reasons and yet the UK government has refused to talk about a permanent end to Hong Kong’s rule of law or warn its own investors. Curiously reluctant to do.

He will go on trial later this year on ludicrous charges that he ‘colluded with foreign forces’.

The response of the Sinc government will then be a crucial test of its willingness to protect subjects wherever they are and to defend the values ​​and principles it claims to hold dear.

But Mr Lai’s son, his lawyers and Mr Duncan Smith do not think the government has gone far enough.

The Foreign Office would not comment on Mr Lai’s case to Sky News, referring to Mr Sink’s words in Parliament.

Sebastian Lye with his lawyers Ms Gallagher and Jonathan Pryce outside Parliament
Sebastian Lye with his lawyers, Kyle Faun Gallagher and Jonathan Pryce, outside Parliament.

‘A Nelson Mandela Character’

British lawyer Caoilfhionn Gallagher, who is leading Mr Lai’s international legal team, told Sky News: “These were small steps in the right direction but we need a quantum leap from the British government.

“They can do that through bilateral relations, they can emphasize that our prisoner of conscience in Hong Kong is behind bars.

“A Nelson Mandela-type character behind bars for speaking truth to power, they need to tell the Hong Kong authorities that they will not continue business as usual.

“They need to look at whether UK businesses are safe to operate in Hong Kong because no UK company doing business there is safe, no one just for a tweet, a Facebook post. The National Security Police may come knocking on the door.”

He added that Jimmy Lai has been targeted “as an example”, with the message that “anyone who dares to be a journalist or speak about the Hong Kong or Beijing authorities is to ‘shut up.’ Otherwise you will be ahead'”.

Tycoon and Apple Daily newspaper owner Jimmy Lai chants before being led away by a police officer outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong on December 11, 2014, in an area previously blocked by pro-democracy supporters.  The center of pro-democracy protests that have blocked streets for more than two months in the city's most economically and politically important district as part of a campaign to demand free elections.
Jimmy Lai on pro-democracy protests in 2014

‘Britain seems scared of Beijing’

Ms Gallagher said she was hopeful the British government could help, as she used the example of British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a client of her colleague, who was finally released from an Iranian prison last year. Her husband went on a hunger strike when the government stepped up his efforts.

Mr Duncan Smith, who is banned by China, added that the British government had done “little or nothing” about protests against Mr Lai’s arrest.

“They drag their feet, they seem scared of the Chinese government, yet the Chinese government doesn’t mind, they do what they want,” he told Sky News.

“We now need to warn British companies that you can no longer rely on being in Hong Kong as a safe haven under the law because China is trashing it – if we do, China Will be very upset.”

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