Hong Kong media owner jailed for attending pro-democracy protests

Jimmy Lai has been sentenced to 14 months in prison for attending a 2019 protest against Chinese attempts to control Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong media mogul has been outspoken in his opposition to China’s power-grab over the region, and is currently serving another 14-month jail sentence for his attendance at other protests in 2019.

Lai, 73, now faces a total of 20 months in jail having participated in an unlawful assembly on China’s national day, 1 October, in 2019.

Four other activists who had joined thousands of Hong Kong residents that day received 18-month sentences this morning.

Judge Amanda Woodcock said she found defence claims that they believed the march would be peaceful “naive and unrealistic”, as one of the city’s most violent days saw intense clashes between police and demonstrators.

Lai, who is estimated to be worth over $1bn, recently had his assets frozen by Chinese-aligned Hong Kong authorities.

“If they can induce fear in you, that’s the cheapest way to control you and the most effective way and they know it. The only way to defeat the way of intimidation is to face up to fear and don’t let it frighten you,” he had told the BBC before his first jail sentence was handed down.

Hong Kong’s newly imposed ‘national security law’, which criminalises subversive activities, collusion with foreign powers, terror and attempts at secession with potential life sentences, has been invoked as Lai now faces two other charges relating to his pro-democracy activities.

Many activists have fled the region as Beijing imposes increasing restrictions on civil liberties, despite promising in 1997 that it would refrain from such crackdowns when Britain returned the city to its control in a “one country, two system” agreement.

Fears are now mounting that Lai’s widely read pro-democracy newspaper, Apple Daily, will be the next target of authorities in the region.

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