Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the release of Jimmy Lai, founder of Apple Daily, arrested today on charges of “colluding with foreign powers”, a charge punishable by life in prison under the national security law recently imposed by the Beijing regime.
Jimmy Lai , 71, the founder of the Hong Kong pro-democracy daily Apple Daily , was arrested at his home on the morning of August 10, 2020 on charges of “collusion with foreign powers” . His two sons and at least seven members of his team were also arrested. Under the national security law imposed on June 30 by the Chinese regime, Jimmy Lai faces life imprisonment if he is tried in Hong Kong and could even in theory risk the death penalty if he is tried in the Republic. People’s Republic of China (PRC), which the law does not exclude.
At the same time, two hundred police officers entered the daily newsroom, preventing journalists from the group from accessing it. The security forces also prohibited access to the building to several major media including the Associated Press (AP) , Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Reuters , the Hong Kong public group RTHK and local media. Initium , In-media and Stand News .
“By accusing the founder of the Apple Daily of collusion with a foreign country, the Hong Kong executive is obviously seeking to kill a personality symbolic of press freedom ,” denounces Christophe Deloire, secretary general of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) , which calls for ” the dropping of all charges against Jimmy Lai and his collaborators and their immediate release “.
Next Digital (formerly Next Media ), the parent company of Apple Daily, is one of the few Hong Kong news groups still daring to openly criticize the Chinese regime and has widely covered last year’s pro-democracy protests. Jimmy Lai has since been arrested twice for ” intimidation ” and ” organizing and participating in an unauthorized demonstration “. In addition, two websites which revealed personal information about Apple Daily reporters for malicious purposes, and which had previously been shut down, made a brief reappearance in early August.
Since June 30, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has had a national security law imposed on it that allows the Beijing regime to intervene directly in the territory to suppress with an appearance of legality anything it considers to be within the “Terrorism” , “secession” , “sedition” and “foreign interference” . On the continent, the vast majority of the 115 journalists currently detained have been arrested or convicted on similar charges.
Hong Kong, once a bastion of press freedom, has fallen from 18th place in 2002 to 80th place in 2020 in the RSF World Press Freedom Index . The People’s Republic of China, for its part, is stagnant at 177th out of 180.
Copyright ©2016, Reporters Without Borders. Used with the permission of Reporters Without Borders(RSF), CS 90247 75083 Paris Cedex 02 https://rsf.org
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