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By HRF Communications Director Elisha Maldonado 

Hong Kong businessman and political dissident Jimmy Lai told me over dinner at his Taiwan home in 2019 that he knew speaking out for truth, justice and freedom in the region could come at great personal cost. He is now behind bars for this supposed crime, so I’m speaking out for him.

On Dec. 10, Jimmy, the founder of Apple Daily — the pro-democracy newspaper that so threatened the Chinese government that it shut it down last year — was sentenced to five years and nine months for two counts of fraud over an alleged breach of a lease for Apple Daily’s former headquarters.

He was already imprisoned for more than a year and a half on different trumped-up charges. And the 75-year-old still faces up to life in prison under the national security law China imposed on Hong Kong in June 2020 to stifle any opposition to its authoritarian rule.

His trial for alleged collusion with foreign forces and conspiracy to publish and distribute seditious material was set to take place on Dec. 1. That has now been pushed to September 2023 because the Hong Kong government has repeatedly fought to bar Jimmy from being represented by his British lawyer, King’s Counsel Timothy Owen.