Hong Kong activist Jimmy Lai pleads not guilty to conspiracy and sedition charges News
© WikiMedia (Shuim Wiang Yamio)
Hong Kong activist Jimmy Lai pleads not guilty to conspiracy and sedition charges

Hong Kong pro-democracy tycoon Jimmy Lai pleaded not guilty Tuesday to two counts of conspiring to collude with foreign forces and one count of publishing “seditious” materials, according to Hong Kong Free Press. Conspiring to collude with foreign forces violates the National Security Law, and publishing “seditious” materials violates the sedition law.

Lai has been detained since December 2020. He is currently serving a sentence of almost six years for fraud charges and a 20-month prison sentence for participating in a vigil that commemorated the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. Lai may be sentenced to life imprisonment if he is convicted of all three counts.

Prosecutor Anthony Chau said that Lai took advantage of his media business to ask foreign governments to impose sanctions against the Hong Kong and Chinese governments, under the guise of freedom and democracy. The prosecution also asserted that Lai had political connections with foreign figures, such as former US Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, former US Army General Jack Keane and former Hong Kong Consul General James Cunningham.

In addition, the prosecution stated that Lai told Fox Business in a May 2020 interview that it was “the time to confront China,” and that Lai also told the BBC that he was expecting former US president Donald Trump to impose “really serious sanctions” on Hong Kong and Chinese authorities.

Chau also asserted that Apple Daily, a media company founded by Lai, published content that intended to call upon Hong Kong’s public to participate in the 2019 Hong Kong protests. He pointed out that Lai published an op-ed on Apple Daily, writing that Hong Kong people must “resist and fight to the end.”

Lai’s trial continues on Wednesday and is expected to last 80 days. On December 22, Hong Kong’s High Court ruled against Lai in finding that the court had jurisdiction to hear his sedition charge. Lai’s counsel argued that the court lacked jurisdiction as the prosecution exceeded its six-month time limit to press the charge pursuant to section 11 of the Crimes Ordinance. Nonetheless, the court held that the prosecution did not exceed the time limit as Lai’s conspiracy to sedition was a continuing act. On December 18, the Hong Kong government wrote that it is inappropriate to comment on Lai’s case. The government also highlighted that all defendants will receive fair trials based on evidence and in accordance with the law.