Beijing warns against meddling in Lai case

Local | Justin Tong 2 Mar 2020

Politicians in Hong Kong and Western countries should stop interfering over the arrest of media mogul Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, a state media commentary said.

"Those who break the law, no matter how tough their backers are or what foreign umbrella they have, will be punished in accordance with the law," it said, adding that various sectors saw Lai's prosecution as "the arrival of long-awaited justice and a demonstration of the spirit of rule of law."

Xinhua News Agency cited Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong vice-chairman Brave Chan Yung, who said the arrest was "encouraging news."

Willy Fu Kin-chi, vice chairman of the Hong Kong Legal Exchange Foundation's executive council, was also quoted as saying the arrest was based on sufficient evidence and in accordance with the law, and claimed the opposition camp should be condemned for issuing false and invalid statements.

Lai, the founder of Next Digital, and veteran pro-democracy politicians Lee Cheuk-yan and Yeung Sum were charged with unlawful assembly on August 31.

Lai was also charged with intimidating another publication's journalist on June 4, 2017.

Meanwhile, a group of about 20 people marched to Next Digital's offices in Tseung Kwan O yesterday to show support for the police and demanded the judiciary safeguard the rule of law by prosecuting protesters.

The organizer said Lai has been taking action that disturbed the country and Hong Kong, including receiving enormous financial support from US-led Western countries.This comes as the US government issued a statement following the arrest, urging Hong Kong authorities "not to selectively enforce the law for political purposes."

It said it expects the cases to be handled "fairly and transparently," preserving the rule of law and people's rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.

Former colonial governor Chris Patten also told Hong Kong Watch, a UK-based human rights pressure group, that the arrests were "outrageous," adding that Beijing is "throttling decency and freedom."

Amnesty International Hong Kong director Tam Man-kei said the arrests were a "shameless attempt to harass and silence those in Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement."

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