Jimmy Lai sentenced to 14 months for pro-democracy protests

Hong Kong pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai has been sentenced to 14 months in prison after being found guilty of unauthorised assembly.

Mr Lai, 73, was one of several activists in court who were earlier found guilty of charges relating to pro-democracy protests in 2019.

The founder of the Apple Daily tabloid is a fierce critic of Beijing.

Friday’s verdict comes as the mainland is increasingly cracking down on Hong Kong’s rights and freedoms.

Several other activists were sentenced on Friday for participating in two demonstrations, on 18 August and 31 August 2019.

They include veteran campaigner Martin Lee, 82, and lawyer Margaret Ng, 73, whose sentences were suspended.

Earlier this week, Mr Lai’s Apple Daily newspaper published a handwritten letter by him, sent from prison, which read: “ It is our responsibility as journalists to seek justice. As long as we are not blinded by unjust temptations, as long as we do not let evil get its way through us, we are fulfilling our responsibility.”

Mr Lai was sentenced to 12 months for the 18 August demonstration and another eight months for 31 August. However, the judge ordered for the sentences to be served concurrently except for two months. Former lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan was also jailed for both demonstrations.

The tycoon faces another six charges – two of which were imposed under the country’s new National Security Law, which can carry a maximum term of life in prison. It is possible that prosecutors could file further charges against him.

The law, implemented in Hong Kong by China last year, criminalises secession and subversion. Earlier this month, Beijing overhauled the territory’s electoral rules to ensure more loyalty to the mainland.

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