Hong Kong pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai has been sentenced to 14 months in prison after being found guilty of unauthorised assembly. He was one of several activists in the court who were earlier found guilty of charges relating to large pro-democracy demonstrations in 2019. The 73-year-old founder of Apple Daily is a fierce critic of Beijing.
The verdict comes as the mainland is increasingly cracking down on Hong Kong’s rights and freedoms. Several other activists were sentenced today for participating in two demonstrations, on 18 August and 31 August 2019. They include veteran campaigner Martin Lee, 82, and lawyer Margaret Ng, 73, whose sentences were suspended.
Earlier this week, Mr Lai’s Apple Daily newspaper published a handwritten letter by him, sent from prison, which says that It is our responsibility as journalists to seek justice. Mr Lai was sentenced to 12 months for the 18 August demonstration and another eight months for 31 August. However, the judge ordered for the sentences to be served concurrently except for two months.
The law, implemented in Hong Kong by China last year, criminalises secession and subversion. Earlier this month, Beijing overhauled the territory’s electoral rules to ensure more loyalty to the mainland.