UK foreign minister meets with legal team of jailed Hong Kong media mogul

Downing Street confirmed that a Foreign Secretary had spoken to the legal team of an imprisoned Hong Kong media mogul.

Asia Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan met with representatives of Jimmy Lai on Tuesday to discuss the status of dual citizenship.

It came after lawyers for the jailed Hong Kong newspaper publisher requested an urgent meeting with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, along with his team eager for the UK to step in.

Mr. Lai founded the now-defunct Apple Daily in Hong Kong, but was arrested in 2020 during a crackdown on the city’s pro-democracy movement.

Hong Kong Democracy Protest Trafalgar Square London

China tightens political freedoms in Hong Kong (Yui Mok/PA)

The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “We were clear that Hong Kong authorities must stop targeting pro-democracy voices, including Jimmy Lai.

“The British Government will always support the rule of law rights and freedoms – it is the right and moral thing to do.

“The State Department has been supporting Jimmy Lai for some time, and Asia Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan spoke with the legal team today.”

Asked whether further measures could be taken, official number 10 said, “We think this is the right approach at this stage. Of course, we will keep it under review.”

Mr. Lai, a Hong Kong and British national, is fighting collusion charges under a national security law imposed by Beijing.

The 75-year-old suspect faces a life sentence if convicted.

Rishi Sunak's visit to Leeds

Jimmy Lai’s lawyers requested a meeting with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (Oli Scarff/PA).

The team’s leader, Caoilfhionn Gallagher, said Lai’s son was in London this week to call on British authorities to protect his father.

His trial, originally scheduled to begin last month, was adjourned to September after the Hong Kong leader asked Beijing to make a decision that could effectively prevent Mr. Lai from hiring a senior British lawyer, Timothy Owen, to represent him.

A critic of the Chinese Communist Party, Mr. Lai is accused of conspiring with others to impose sanctions or blockades, or engaging in hostile activities against Hong Kong or China.

It also faces a separate charge of collusion with foreign powers to endanger national security, and a separate charge of incitement under a colonial-era law increasingly used to suppress opposition.

Hong Kong was ceded from Britain to China in 1997 with Beijing’s promise to keep Western-style liberties under a “one country, two systems” framework.

But in recent years, China’s crackdown on political freedoms has drawn criticism from Western governments, including the United Kingdom.

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