Facts, evidence of Jimmy Lai’s collusion with foreign forces ‘clear, legally persuasive’

By Chen Qingqing (Global Times) 14:45, January 04, 2024

The trial of infamous anti-China disruptor Jimmy Lai, also the founder of Next Digital Media, along with three companies associated with the Apple Daily newspaper, entered into its fifth day on Wednesday for alleged violations of the National Security Law (NSL) for Hong Kong.

While some Western political figures attempted to refute allegations of conspiracy in Lai's case, legal experts believe that presenting evidence of Jimmy Lai's collusion with foreign forces will be legally persuasive. Based on the materials provided in the trial, the facts and evidence of Lai's collusion with foreign forces are clear, some experts said.

The prosecutor on Wednesday presented several articles published by Apple Daily between 2019 and 2020, as well as quoting Lai's speeches. Some articles are considered to have demonstrated the defendant's promotion of hatred against the government. One article even mentioned calls for "governments worldwide to sanction Hong Kong officials and police who persecute Hong Kong residents."

The prosecutor also referenced another article about global solidarity rallies in 22 cities, with themes urging immediate so-called democratic reforms by the government or else calling for international sanctions.

On Wednesday afternoon, the prosecutor continued their presentation and played a video segment, including some interview clips of the defendant in which he mentioned the necessity for US support and suggested that the US should support Taiwan in imposing technological sanctions on the Chinese mainland.

The prosecutor presented 161 articles involved in the case, of which 31 were published after the implementation of the NSL for Hong Kong. Justice Alex Lee Wan-tang requested clarification on which specific charges the referenced articles were related to.

The prosecutor responded that the content of the 31 articles published after the enactment of the NSL for Hong Kong is pertinent to the charges of conspiracy to collude with foreign forces and conspiracy to publish seditious publications.

The prosecutor had earlier accused Lai of conspiring with activist Andy Li, paralegal Chan Tsz-wah, exiled figure Finn Lau, Britain-based rights campaigner Luke de Pulford, Japanese politician Shiori Yamao, US financier Bill Browder and others to lobby foreign countries for sanctions, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

Some of the foreign political figures named in the national security trial of Lai tried to refute those allegations, according to the media report. The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China baselessly criticized the trial and said in a statement that "working with Mr Lai to uphold fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong would have been a matter of pride."

The rebuttals of foreign figures and related individuals in the trial, who are evading the core question, further confirm Lai's intricate connections with foreign entities. "One wonders why these politicians and individuals would be so concerned about this case if there were no relations," Louis Chen, a member of the Election Committee and general secretary of the Hong Kong Legal Exchange Foundation, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Based on the materials provided in the trial, the facts and evidence of Lai's collusion with foreign forces are clear, Chen said. "Of course, until adjudicated by the court, he has the full right to defense and is free to say anything."

It is believed that the trial will be impartial, fully reflecting Hong Kong's modern rule of law spirit and the professional standards of the judges, the legal expert said.

On Wednesday, the Commissioner's Office of China's Foreign Ministry in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) expressed strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition toward those rebuttals of overseas political figures and group.

These politicians are attempting to shield anti-China disruptors in Hong Kong, brutally interfere in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs, and blatantly trample on the basic norms of international relations. Their actions are unpopular and doomed to fail, a spokesperson from the commissioner's office said.

Lai is a major planner, participant and behind-the-scenes instigator of the anti-China riots in Hong Kong, the spokesperson said, noting that as a proxy and pawn of foreign anti-China forces, Lai blatantly colluded with external forces to endanger national security and willingly served as a political tool for foreign forces to use Hong Kong to contain China.

Hong Kong is a society ruled by law, where laws must be observed and law enforcement must be strict. Hong Kong's judicial departments handle cases fairly and according to the law, which is widely supported and appreciated by the public, the spokesperson said.

"[The] prosecutor's opening statement in court yesterday, presenting evidence of Lai's collusion with foreign forces, is legally persuasive," Fu Kin-chi, director of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies and vice-president of the Hong Kong Basic Law Education Association, told the Global Times on Wednesday

Fu criticized the rebuttals by related foreign politicians and individuals as lacking a factual and legal basis, accusing them of applying double standards, smearing the NSL for Hong Kong, and improperly interfering with Hong Kong's legal system and judicial independence.

"They are trying to support and stand by Lai, a leader of anti-China and anti-Hong Kong riots, thus violating the spirit of the rule of law in Hong Kong. This constitutes a breach of international law and basic principles of international relations, and may even amount to contempt of court and obstruction of justice, deserving strong condemnation," he said.

(Web editor: Tian Yi, Liang Jun)


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