AP

Hong Kong court lets UK lawyer defend media tycoon Jimmy Lai

Nov 8, 2022, 10:14 AM | Updated: Nov 9, 2022, 1:57 am

FILE - Jimmy Lai, among various of groups of pro-democracy activists, arrives at a court in Hong Ko...

FILE - Jimmy Lai, among various of groups of pro-democracy activists, arrives at a court in Hong Kong on Sept. 15, 2020. A Hong Kong court on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022, upheld the decision to let a veteran British lawyer defend pro-democracy newspaper publisher Jimmy Lai at his upcoming national security trial.(AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)

(AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)

HONG KONG (AP) — A Hong Kong court on Wednesday upheld the decision to let a veteran British lawyer defend pro-democracy newspaper publisher Jimmy Lai at his upcoming national security trial.

Lai, the 74-year-old founder of the now-defunct Apple Daily, was arrested after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law to crack down on dissent following widespread protests in 2019. He faces three charges of conspiracies to collude with a foreign country and a separate sedition charge. His trial is expected to begin on Dec. 1.

The National Security Law criminalizes acts of succession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces. If convicted, Lai faces the maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Timothy Owen, a London-based legal veteran who specializes in criminal and human rights law, was granted court approval last month to represent Lai despite objections from the city’s secretary of justice and the Hong Kong Bar Association.

At that time, the judge said the case would be important to “the development of local jurisprudence on the application of the National Security Law and the protection of the freedom of expression,” adding it was in public interest to have an eminent overseas specialist like Owen involved at the trial.

Facing an appeal from the justice secretary, judges at the Court of Appeal endorsed the previous ruling on Wednesday, saying public perception of fairness in the trial was important to the administration of justice.

“The court must adopt a flexible and sensible approach to arrive at a decision that would best suit the public interest in this application,” they said.

Hong Kong, a former British colony returned to China in 1997, uses the same common law jurisdiction as the U.K. Apart from having overseas judges serve in the city’s courts, lawyers from other jurisdictions practicing common law can also work within the city’s legal system, especially when their expertise are needed for some cases.

Owen, who works in Matrix Chambers, has appeared in previous Hong Kong’s high-profile cases. He represented British banker Rurik Jutting, who was convicted for murdering two women, and a police officer who appealed his conviction for assaulting a pro-democracy activist during 2014 protests.

Lai is already serving a 20-month prison sentence for his role in unauthorized assemblies. He’s also expecting a sentencing over his fraud conviction on Nov. 24. Those charges are separate from the national security law.

His legal team earlier asked the United Nations to investigate his imprisonment and multiple criminal charges as “legal harassment” to punish him for speaking out.

The enactment of the security law has led to the arrests of many prominent democracy activists. It has also damaged faith in the future of the international financial hub, with increasing numbers of young professionals responding to the shrinking freedoms by moving abroad.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Image: A person wears a T-shirt with the names of Kristin Smith, Charity Lynn Perry, Joanna Speaks,...

Associated Press

Man probed in deaths of women in northwest Oregon indicted in 3 killings

A man who has been under investigation in the deaths of four women whose bodies were found across northwest Oregon has been indicted.

8 hours ago

Image: The headquarters for The Boeing Company can be seen in Arlington, Virginia, on Jan. 31, 2024...

Associated Press

Police conclude investigation into suicide of Boeing whistleblower

A former manager who raised safety questions about the aircraft maker and, later, was found dead took his own life, police said Friday.

14 hours ago

Image: Scottie Scheffler celebrates after a birdie on the 10th hole during the second round of the ...

Associated Press

No. 1 golfer Scottie Scheffler: From the course to jail and back after Friday arrest

Top-ranked golfer Scottie Scheffler was arrested after police say he dragged an officer while trying to get around a fatal accident Friday.

2 days ago

Photo: Seattle Times publisher and CEO Frank Blethen announced he will step down at the end of next...

Associated Press

Seattle Times CEO to step down after 4 decades in charge of family-owned paper

Seattle Times publisher and CEO Frank Blethen announced he will step down at the end of next year after four decades of leading the paper.

2 days ago

Image: Andy Jassy, Amazon president and CEO, attends an event on Aug. 15, 2022, in Culver City, Cal...

Associated Press

Comments from Amazon CEO Andy Jassy about unions violated federal law, NLRB judge rules

A federal judge ruled Amazon CEO Andy Jassy violated labor law by making certain anti-union comments during media interviews two years ago.

16 days ago

Image: Former President Donald Trump appears at Manhattan criminal court before his trial in New Yo...

Associated Press

Judge raises threat of jail as he holds Trump in contempt, fines him at trial

Former President Donald Trump was held in contempt of court at his trial Tuesday and fined $9,000 for repeatedly violating a gag order.

19 days ago

Hong Kong court lets UK lawyer defend media tycoon Jimmy Lai