GENEVA, Sept 27 (Portal) – The son of Jimmy Lai, a media tycoon jailed in Hong Kong, said on Wednesday it was in the former British colony’s interest to release his father and not let him die in prison.
Sebastien Lai, who was in Geneva to attend a British-organized event on media freedom in Hong Kong, has not seen his 75-year-old father for three years.
“I am optimistic because I believe there is no benefit to the Hong Kong government if my father dies in prison,” Sebastien Lai said of the prospect of his father’s release.
“He’s a pro-democracy activist, a publisher, and he’s also an incredibly peaceful man… Now that they’ve taken everything he has, keeping him in prison is just cruel.”
Jimmy Lai is the founder of the now-defunct pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily and one of the most prominent critics of the Chinese Communist Party’s leadership in Hong Kong, including President Xi Jinping.
This week he celebrated his 1,000th birthday. day in a Hong Kong prison on charges related to a national security law that Beijing imposed on Hong Kong in 2020 after months of anti-government protests.
The law punishes acts such as subversion, cooperation with foreign forces and terrorism with up to life in prison.
Sebastien Lai – who said his father, a British citizen, was not granted consular access – described his father as a man who always led by example.
“Of course he is human. He’s scared,” said Sebastien Lai. “But he knows he can’t give in to this fear.”
Ahead of Wednesday’s event, China’s diplomatic mission in Geneva urged countries to boycott, saying issues related to Hong Kong were internal Chinese matters.
Although the Chinese mission called for a boycott, it sent a representative to the event who said it amounted to interference in China’s affairs.
In a separate statement, the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Commissioner’s Office in Hong Kong accused the United Kingdom and the United States of “maliciously slandering” the national security law and “blatantly supporting anti-China and disruptive Hong Kong activist Jimmy Lai.”
Rebecca Vincent, campaign director at Reporters Without Borders, who also attended the event, welcomed China’s presence.
“The Chinese government frankly doesn’t like to hear from organizations like us,” she said. “I hope they took careful notes and reported everything back to Beijing because they should hear what we have to say.”
Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber in Geneva; Additional reporting by Farah Master in Hong Kong; Edited by Andrea Ricci
Our standards: The Thomson Portal Trust Principles.
Acquire license rights, opens new tab