On October 15th, the Hong Kong High Court began the trial of pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai, of Apple Daily and Next Magazine, who was jailed in April on costs of collusion with international powers and fraud unrelated to his news-writing.
Mr. Lai’s trial may prove to be his biggest yet. He faces nine months in jail on the collusion charge alone, and could face as many as seven years if convicted on all charges.
The high-profile case has attracted a lot of attention from the international community, with some seeing it as a sign of erosion of the “one country, two system” policy and a crackdown on free press in Hong Kong.
The trial, which is expected to last four months, is an effort on the part of the Hong Kong Police Force to ensure that the pro-democracy movement does not take further hold in the city.
It is believed that Mr. Lai was detained under suspicion of using his freedom of speech to “subvert state power” and incite violence, a charge that is often used by Beijing in its efforts to tighten its grip on free expression.
News outlets around the world are paying close attention to the trial, and many have voiced support for the imprisoned pro-democracy activist, including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The trial is a reminder of the fragility of Hong Kong’s freedoms and of the importance of standing up for those who are persecuted for speaking their minds. As the trial enters its next stage, the international community will be watching to see the outcome vigilance.