Speaking after the opening of the Hong Kong trial of Jimmy Lai under the so-called National Security Law of China, Reinhard Bütikofer MEP has condemned what he calls the “criminalisation” of Jimmy Lai in Hong Kong.
Lai is a Hong Kong entrepreneur and activist. He founded Giordano, an Asian clothing retailer, Next Digital, a Hong Kong-listed media company, and the popular newspaper Apple Daily.
He is one of the main contributors to the pro-democracy camp, especially to the Democratic Party.
German MEP Bütikofer, Chair of the European Parliament’s China Delegation, said: “The opening of the trial against former media tycoon Jimmy Lai is a significant event in the enforcement of Hong Kong’s so-called National Security Law that was imposed about two and a half years ago.”
He added, “Jimmy Lai, a staunch advocate for the freedoms guaranteed in Hong Kong’s Basic Law and for the development of democracy in Hong Kong, is being accused of colluding with external forces. Jimmy Lai has for a long time been a favourite target for the CCP and their Hong Kong acolytes. It is to be expected that his sentence will be very heavy.”
The MEP added, “In the pursuit of the criminalization of Jimmy Lai, Hong Kong authorities are without limits. When Hong Kong’s Supreme Court, against the will of the Hong Kong executive, confirmed Jimmy Lai’s right to be defended in court by a British barrister, Hong Kong leaders appealed to Beijing to overturn or invalidate the decision of the Supreme Court, thus giving the lie to their claim that they stand for rule of law.”
He said, “Just as Joshua Wong, Cardinal Zen and many others, Jimmy Lai is a political prisoner, kept in jail for their love of freedom and democracy.
“The European Union should protest against the parody of a fair trial that will be held to condemn Jimmy Lai. Several of the people that worked for him at Apple Daily, when Apple Daily was still allowed to exist, have been forced and blackmailed into giving testimony against their former boss. The trial of Jimmy Lai amounts to a mockery of justice. Jimmy Lai has to be admired for his courage in standing for his ideals. That is why the European Parliament has expressed its strong solidarity with Jimmy Lai. Jimmy Lai should be set free.”
“That may not happen, but we will continue in our support of him and other political prisoners in Hong Kong,” said Bütikofer.