HK tycoon Lai jailed a further 14 months | Ralph Lauren

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Jailed Hong Kong media tycoon and Beijing critic Jimmy Lai has been sentenced to a further 14 months in prison.

The new penalty was for organising an unauthorised assembly on October 1, 2019, during one of the city’s pro-democracy rallies that year.

Judge Amanda Woodcock delivered the sentence in the District Court.

This month, Lai – who is already serving a 14-month sentence for participating in similar demonstrations in August 2019 – and nine other activists pleaded guilty to organising an unauthorised assembly.

He has been in jail since December after being denied bail in a separate national security trial. He faces three charges under the new law, introduced by China in 2020 in response to the protests, including collusion with a foreign country.

Lai’s repeated arrests have drawn criticism from Western governments and international rights groups, who raised concerns over waning freedoms in the global financial hub, including freedom of speech and assembly.

Beijing sees him as a traitor and an anti-China instigator.

China says the sweeping security law, which punishes anything Beijing considers as subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison, was vital to restore stability and prosperity.

Woodcock said part of the new sentence would be served consecutively, meaning Lai faces a total of 20 months in prison so far.

Woodcock said she found claims by some of the defendants that their march on October 1, China’s national day, would be peaceful to be “naive and unrealistic”.

There were major clashes that day, including a live round shot by a policeman at a protester swinging a long stick, the first use of a handgun after months of demonstrations.

Activists Figo Chan, Lee Cheuk-yan, Albert Ho and Leung Kwok-hung, who is known in Hong Kong as Long Hair, were sentenced to 18 months for each of two charges in this case, with the sentences to be served concurrently.

The sentence comes two weeks after authorities froze assets belonging to Lai, including bank accounts and his 71.26 per cent stake in media publisher Next Digital.



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