HK Court Says No UK Lawyer For Lai

A Hong Kong court rejected an activist publisher’s latest effort Friday to use a British lawyer to defend him against national security charges as Beijing tries to crush a pro-democracy movement.

Jimmy Lai, the 75-year-old founder of the now-defunct newspaper Apple Daily, faces up to life in prison if convicted. In November, the city’s top court approved Lai hiring veteran lawyer Timothy Owen for the case, but the city’s national security authorities blocked that.

Lai and most of Hong Kong’s leading pro-democracy activists were arrested after Beijing imposed a national security law on the former British colony following massive anti-government protests in 2019. The political saga over Lai’s choice of lawyer is widely seen as part of the city’s crackdown on dissidents after the protests.

On Friday, Judge Jeremy Poon rejected Lai’s request to overturn the committee for safeguarding national security’s decision. Poon ruled courts have no jurisdiction over the committee under the security law.

The political row over Lai’s lawyer began in November when the government voiced objection to it and asked Beijing to step in soon after the top court gave its approval.

Read more