#FreeJimmyLai, Hong Kong’s Apple Daily founder, who faces a life sentence!

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Support the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) campaign for the urgent release of this 74 year-old press freedom defender, who has been detained already for two years. Jimmy Lai is the founder of the now-defunct Hong Kong media outlet Apple Daily and a 2020 laureate of RSF’s Press Freedom Prize. Accused of national security-related crimes and faces a possible life sentence. Help us by signing the appeal calling on the Hong Kong authorities to #FreeJimmyLai !

 

Jimmy Lai, age 74, has been a robust defender of freedom of the press throughout his 25-year career with independent media outlet Apple Daily. Fleeing from the grips of the Chinese regime to Hong Kong at age 12, Lai kept the media environment in Hong Kong colourful and varied through his unwavering commitment to Apple Daily’s editorial independence, unaffected by the Hong Kong government and the Chinese regime’s incessant political persecution.

 

Lai, who has been detained since December 2020, faces a life sentence for “collusion with foreign forces” under the National Security Law adopted by the Chinese regime to suppress dissent in Hong Kong and has already been sentenced to a total of 20 months in prison for attending four “unauthorised'' pro-democracy protests in 2019 and 2020. In addition to Lai, six former Apple Daily staff members are also detained and face life imprisonment under similar charges.

 

My dad’s only ‘crime’ is to campaign for democracy in the face of tyranny, but for that he has already spent over two years in prison and faces the rest of his life behind bars. The authorities in Hong Kong and China are using my dad’s case to send a chilling message to all independent voices in the media and civil society: keep quiet or you’ll be next.” said Lai’s son, Sebastian Lai, and added “I thank RSF for speaking out and fighting back. We need to shine a light on what is happening to my dad and all other targeted Hong Kongers.”

 

“Our client, Jimmy Lai, faces the rest of his life behind bars for speaking truth to power. Whilst Jimmy Lai remains in prison and the National Security Law remains on the statute books, the world can see Hong Kong does not respect democratic values and is not a safe place to do business.” said Caoilfhionn Gallagher, a member of Lai’s international lawyers team.

 

While Lai has been detained in a maximum security jail and has repeatedly been refused bail over the past two years, his defence of press freedom remains unshaken. "Hong Kong's situation is increasingly chilling, but precisely because of that, we need to love and cherish ourselves more," Lai wrote from jail in April 2021, two months before Apple Daily was forced to shut down, calling on journalists to “stand tall and keep [their] heads high.” 

 

The sentencing of Jimmy Lai and his former collaborators would set a dangerous precedent for journalism and press freedom as the Chinese regime strengthens its grip on the special administrative region. Sign this petition to show your support for Lai and all press freedom defenders in Hong Kong, by calling on the Hong Kong authorities to drop the charges against Lai and release him without further delay!

 

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