Law Society Gazette: Hong Kong activist’s London lawyers receive rape and death threats

Shocking but not surprising….

The Law Society Gazette reports

Jailed Hong Kong pro-democracy activist and media mogul Jimmy Lai’s London-based international legal team have revealed they received rape and death threats which they allege were orchestrated by the Beijing authorities.

Lai, 75, who is a British citizen, has been in jail since 2020 and faces a trial on national security charges for sedition and colluding with foreign forces, related to the work of his online newspaper Apple Daily. If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in jail.

Lai’s son Sebastian has been in London this week seeking an urgent meeting with prime minister Rishi Sunak to urge the British government to speak out in support of his father ahead of his trial in October.

Caoilfhionne Gallagher KC, a barrister at London’s Doughty Street Chambers, who is part of Lai’s international legal team, revealed that she and others have received threats as part of what she said was the ‘extraterritorial targeting’ of those speaking out against his treatment.

‘The Beijing and Hong Kong authorities are no longer content with attempting to simply silence their critics in their own border. They are now attempting to use the long arm of the state to try to silence critics wherever in the world it may be,’ Gallagher told a meeting at the Frontline Club last night.

Gallagher said that she has received three rape threats, one death threat and ‘multiple spurious impersonating emails’ purporting to come from her.

One bogus email purportedly sent from Gallagher to her colleagues at Doughty Street said that she had resigned from chambers because her work for Lai made her an enemy of the Chinese state and she was putting them all at risk.

Jimmy Lai

Pro-democracy campaigner Jimmy Lai faces trial on national security charges

Source: Vernon Yuen/Shutterstock

Lai’s trial in Hong Kong was due to start last month and he was to be represented there by Timothy Owen KC, a tenant at Matrix Chambers, in London.

Following a legal challenge, the Beijing authorities have said that it is for John Lee, the chief executive of Hong Kong, to decide who will defend him – a decision that Gallagher said ‘makes a mockery of the rule of law in Hong Kong’.

She questioned why the Hong Kong regime does not trust a London lawyer to fly out to represent Lai, when it is content for international judges, including six retired judges from the UK, to sit on its Court of Final Appeal.

But she said that regardless of who represents Lai, he will have a ‘show trial’ with a predetermined outcome, based on trumped up charges designed to silence Lai.

‘We do not believe he will get a fair trial. He’s being prosecuted under a fundamentally unfair law, which is a violation of international principles,’ she said.

Gallagher stressed that the international team that she is part of is entirely separate from Lai’s domestic lawyers.

Due to the ‘breathtakingly broad terms’ of the national security laws, she said, ‘even the act of lawyering and standing up for your rights in Hong Kong has become an offence’.

Gallagher added: ‘We have had very clear threats in Chinese state media that even the very act of bringing an appeal to the United Nations to protect Jimmy Lai’s internationally protected human rights, in itself might constitute an offence under the national security laws.’

On Tuesday, Lai’s son and his representatives met foreign office minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan, which Gallagher welcomed.

Sebastian Lai told the audience that it was important for the British government to speak out to protect the common law in Hong Kong, which was established during British rule. ‘By not speaking out you are letting [China’s lies that the rule of law still exists in Hong Kong] become reality,’ he said.