HONG KONG (AP) — The trial of a Hong Kong newspaper arrested in a pro-democracy crackdown comes after the Hong Kong leader urged China to effectively stop him from hiring a British lawyer. Postponed to Thursday.
Jimmy Lai, 74, could face life in prison if convicted under the National Security Act imposed on former British colonies by the ruling Communist Party. The government objected after a judge on Monday approved Lai’s plan to hire Timothy Owen, a veteran human rights lawyer.
Chief Executive John Lee has asked the Chinese Communist Party-controlled ceremonial legislature to decide whether foreign lawyers who do not normally practice in Hong Kong can be dismissed in national security-related cases. asked.
Beijing has imposed a security law after pro-democracy protests began in 2019. If Beijing intervenes, it will be the sixth time the Communist Party-controlled government has intervened in the city’s legal affairs.
Lai, the founder of the now-defunct Apple Daily, has been accused of conspiring with others to demand sanctions and blockades, as well as engaging in hostile activities against Hong Kong and China. He also faces charges of collusion with foreign powers to endanger national security, and another sedition charge under colonial-era laws increasingly used to silence dissenting voices. There is
As of late November, 25 people had been convicted under laws against subversion, independence movements, collusion with “foreign forces” and acts of terrorism, according to the security services.
A judge has granted approval to a request from the Justice Department to postpone the trial for a short period while the city awaits Beijing’s decision. The next hearing is scheduled for December 13th.
Li, the former Hong Kong security chief who oversaw the crackdown, said on Tuesday that Beijing was very concerned and would act “as soon as possible”, but gave no timeline for interpretation to overturn the court’s ruling. rice field.
Hong Kong was promised a “high degree of autonomy” when it was handed back to China in 1997, but Beijing and its local allies withdrew Western-style civil rights, weakening Hong Kong’s appeal as a global business center. ing.
According to Lai’s attorney, Owen did not appear in court because the immigration office put a hold on the barrister’s application for a work visa extension.
Hong Kong’s Supreme Court on Monday dismissed the government’s objection to allowing Ray to hire Owen for security reasons as “undefined and unfounded.”
On Tuesday, Hong Kong Bar Association President Victor Dawes called on the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress to exercise its power to prudently interpret the law. He said a local court could clarify the ambiguity in the future.
The Hong Kong Liaison Office in Beijing and the Hong Kong-Macau Secretariat backed Lee’s position in a statement on Monday.
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