Hong Kong: Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai, detained for one year, risks life sentence

Jimmy Lai, Apple Daily founder and 2020 RSF Press Freedom laureate, has now been detained for one year and still faces a life sentence under the National Security Law imposed by the Chinese regime. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urges for his immediate release.

2nd December 2021 marks one year since the detention of Jimmy Lai, Apple Daily founder and 2020 RSF Press Freedom laureate, who was charged with “fraud” during a Hong Kong government repression campaign against independent journalism. Lai, who will turn 74 on 8th December 2021, was already sentenced in May to 20 months in prison for attending “unauthorised” pro-democracy protests and also faces five other procedures, ranging from “conspiracy to pervert the course of justice” to “collusion with foreign forces”, for which he risks up to a life sentence under the National Security Law adopted by the Chinese regime last year. 

"The detention and harassment of Jimmy Lai, who did nothing but exercise his right to impart and comment on factual information, demonstrates the determination of the Hong Kong government to silence a symbolic figure of press freedom,” says RSF East Asia bureau head, Cédric Alviani, who calls on the international community to “build up the pressure on the Chinese regime to secure Jimmy Lai’s immediate release as well as the release of all detained journalists and press freedom defenders”.

In June, Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, also used the National Security Law as pretext to shut down Apple Daily, the territory’s largest Chinese-language opposition newspaper, and to prosecute 12 journalists, ten of whom are still detained.

RSF submitted two urgent appeals calling on the United Nations to “take all measures necessary” to safeguard press freedom in Hong Kong and to obtain the immediate release of Jimmy Lai.

In an upcoming report titled The Great Leap Backwards of Journalism in China, to be released in December 2021, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reveals the system of censorship and information control established by the Chinese regime and the threat it poses to global press freedom and democracy.

Hong Kong, once a bastion of press freedom, has fallen from 18th place in 2002 to 80th place in the 2021 RSF World Press Freedom Index. The People's Republic of China, for its part, has stagnated at 177th out of 180.