Hong Kong publisher’s security trial further delayed

Dec 12, 2022, 6:59 AM | Updated: 9:51 pm

FILE - Democracy advocate Jimmy Lai leaves the Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal in Hong Kong, on F...

FILE - Democracy advocate Jimmy Lai leaves the Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal in Hong Kong, on Feb. 9, 2021. The national security trial of Lai, a Hong Kong pro-democracy publisher, was further postponed Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022, to next September as the city awaits Beijing's ruling that could effectively block him from hiring a British defense lawyer. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)

(AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)

HONG KONG (AP) — The national security trial of a Hong Kong pro-democracy publisher was further postponed Tuesday to next September as the city awaits Beijing’s ruling that could effectively block him from hiring a British defense lawyer.

Jimmy Lai, who was arrested in August 2020 during a crackdown on the city’s pro-democracy movement, is fighting charges of endangering national security. The 75-year-old founder of the now-defunct pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily faces up to life in prison if convicted under a sweeping National Security Law imposed by Beijing.

His high-profile trial, which was originally scheduled to begin on Dec. 1, was already delayed earlier this month after Hong Kong leader John Lee asked China’s top legislative body to decide whether foreign lawyers who don’t normally practice in Hong Kong could be involved in national security cases.

Lee made the request hours after the city’s highest court approved Lai’s plan to employ Timothy Owen, a veteran human rights lawyer.

If Beijing intervenes, that would mark the sixth time the Communist-ruled government has stepped in despite its promise to respect Hong Kong’s judicial independence and civil liberties for at least 50 years after China took over from Britain in 1997.

Members of China’s top lawmaking body are expected to meet in late December. But the law’s interpretation was not part of the meeting’s agendas reported by China’s official Xinhua News Agency last Friday. Hong Kong’s sole delegate to the body said Monday that in some previous events, new agendas were only being added during the meeting. But Tam Yiu-chung could not tell how the committee would handle Lee’s request.

Judge Esther Toh scheduled the trial to begin Sept. 25, 2023, in light of the latest development and taking the schedules of the court and lawyers into account. It is expected to end Nov. 21.

Owen left Hong Kong after the immigration department denied his visa extension while the authorities were still waiting on Beijing’s decision, Lai’s lawyer said.

Lai is accused of conspiring with others in hostile activities against Hong Kong or China, such as calling for sanctions. He also faces a charge of collusion with foreign forces to endanger national security, and a separate sedition charge under a colonial-era law that is increasingly used to crush dissent.

He was sentenced Saturday to five years and nine months in jail over fraud, after completing a 20-month jail term for his role in unauthorized assemblies.

The U.S. Department of State spokesperson Ned Price condemned the latest sentencing Sunday on Twitter, calling on China’s authorities to respect Hong Kong’s freedom of expression, including for the press.

In response, the Hong Kong government said the statement was political interference in the city’s judicial system, adding the fraud case had nothing to do with press or speech freedoms.

Meanwhile, former Stand News editor-in-chief Chung Pui-kuen, who was accused of conspiring to publish seditious materials, secured bail Tuesday in a separate court hearing after being held in custody for almost a year. The now-shuttered Stand News was one of the city’s last news media that openly criticized the government after the closure of Apple Daily.

Chung and his former colleague Patrick Lam were charged under a colonial-era sedition law that has been used increasingly to silence critical voices in the city. Lam was granted bail last month.

Hong Kong fell more than 60 places to 148th place in Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index released in May. The global media watchdog cited the closure of the two outlets in its rating.

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


Seattle non-profits...

Associated Press

Oregon man convicted of murder in fatal shooting of sheriff’s deputy in Washington state

A jury has convicted an Oregon man of murder in the fatal shooting of a sheriff’s deputy in Washington state.

4 hours ago

Image: Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to a crowd during a campaign rally on Monday, Sept...

Associated Press

Judge rules Donald Trump defrauded banks, insurers while building real estate empire

A judge ruled Tuesday that Donald Trump committed fraud for years while building the real estate empire that catapulted him to fame and the White House.

18 hours ago

FILE - The Amazon logo is displayed, Sept. 6, 2012, in Santa Monica, Calif. Amazon's profitable clo...

Haleluya Hadero, Associated Press

Amazon sued by FTC and 17 states over allegations it inflates online prices and overcharges sellers

The FTC filed an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon on Tuesday, alleging the e-commerce behemoth uses its position in the marketplace to inflate prices

1 day ago

KYIV, UKRAINE - 2022/09/03: A man looks at an image generated based on the stories of displaced chi...

Associated Press

Tech companies try to take AI image generators mainstream with better protections against misuse

Artificial intelligence tools that can conjure whimsical artwork or realistic-looking images from written commands started wowing the public last year. But most people don't actually use them at work or home.

1 day ago

Image: Actor David McCallum attends an event for "NCIS" during the 2009 Monte Carlo Television Fest...

Associated Press

David McCallum, star of hit series ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ and ‘NCIS,’ dies at 90

Actor David McCallum, who was the eccentric medical examiner in the popular "NCIS," has died. He was 90.

2 days ago

FILE - COVID-19 antigen home tests indicating a positive result are photographed in New York, April...

Associated Press

Biden administration announces $600M to produce and distribute COVID tests

The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it is providing $600 million in funding to produce new at-home COVID-19 tests and is restarting a website allowing Americans to again order up to four free tests per household

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife...

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is a busy month on the sports calendar and also holds a very special designation: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Ziply Fiber...

Dan Miller

The truth about Gigs, Gs and other internet marketing jargon

If you’re confused by internet technologies and marketing jargon, you’re not alone. Here's how you can make an informed decision.

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Hong Kong publisher’s security trial further delayed