Hong Kong publisher Jimmy Lai will not be tried for his alleged breach of China’s national security law until the end of 2023, after his British lawyer was refused a visa extension.
Lai, 75, was sentenced last week to 69 months in prison for fraud after an already extensive probation period. He was scheduled to re-enter the courthouse on Tuesday to stand trial with even higher stakes under China’s national security law.
However, the trial has been pushed back after lawyer Tim Owen was refused a work visa extension.
CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY CRITIC, MEDIA MOGUL JIMMY LAI SENTENCED TO 69 MONTHS IN PRISON
Chinese officials say Lai’s use of a non-Chinese lawyer is a national security risk. That complaint was rejected by Hong Kong’s highest court, but the decision is now under scrutiny in Beijing with no verdict yet.
Lai will now be forced to wait until September 2023 before being tried again.
The media mogul and opponent of the Chinese Communist Party was initially charged with fraud in December. 3, 2019, for violating the terms of the lease for office space at Next Digital, the media company he founded.
In addition to the prison term, Lai was ordered to pay a fine of approximately $256,837.
HONG KONG media mogul JIMMY LAI’s bail has been revoked
Lai was charged with another, more serious charge in December. 12, 2019, under the broad national security law imposed by Beijing. He was arrested on charges of conniving with foreign forces and endangering national security. This is the judgment that will now take place in 2023.
Fr. Robert Sirico, a Roman Catholic priest and personal friend of Lai, told Fox News Digital that the Chinese Communist Party’s legal actions against the media titan exposed its commitment to silencing human rights activists.
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“As if more proof were needed, [last week’s] The bogus conviction is evidence of China’s continued erosion of basic human freedoms, which the entire world has witnessed in China in recent weeks,” Sirico said.
Lai is a late convert to Roman Catholicism and has been vocal about the role of his faith in his anti-CCP activism.
“That, along with an impending second trial on the National Security Act […] which could result in a life sentence for Mr. Lai, will encourage decent people to pray and contact the UK government to ask China to release an innocent British citizen,” the priest added.
Lai is among a number of pro-democracy activists and supporters arrested by Hong Kong police in recent years as authorities step up repression against dissent in the Chinese semi-autonomous territory.