Hong Kong’s pro-democracy media entrepreneur Jimmy Lai, jailed since 2020, faces a possible life sentence under the city’s national security law. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

CPJ calls on British PM to press for Jimmy Lai’s freedom after Hong Kong report

New York, April 24, 2023—The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomed recommendations made by Britain’s All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) in a report about Hong Kong media freedom released Monday, April 24, and joined the group in urging the U.K. government to immediately take action to secure the release of Jimmy Lai and other imprisoned journalists.

The APPG’s report urged the U.K. government to treat the case of Lai, a British citizen and founder of Hong Kong’s now-shuttered pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily, as a political priority and to consider his detention arbitrary. The group found the U.K. government’s response to Lai’s case has been “minimal, arguably negligent.”

CPJ was among the groups that submitted evidence to the APPG inquiry.

“British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his government must heed the newly released All-Party Parliamentary Group report, which calls on them to pressure for publisher Jimmy Lai’s release,” said Beh Lih Yi, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “It is time for Sunak to say enough is enough. In five months, Lai will be tried under Hong Kong’s national security law, which could see him spend the rest of his life in jail. Will the British PM end his deafening silence?”

Lai has been behind bars since December 2020. He is serving a sentence of five years and nine months on fraud charges and is awaiting trial on national security charges, due to start in September, which could imprison him for life. 

The APPG on Hong Kong is an informal cross-party group in the U.K. Parliament, started in November 2019.