The godfather of an arrested Hong Kong Catholic entrepreneur and pro-democracy advocate says he hopes Jimmy Lai’s courageous example will inspire more calls for justice amid an ongoing crackdown on human rights in Hong Kong.
“[Jimmy’s] faith isn’t based on the idea that he won’t suffer, or there’ll be a happy solution,” said Bill McGurn, a longtime member of the Wall Street Journal editorial board, during an Aug. 18 interview with CNA.
“He’s moved from billionaire to dissident and he’s shown he’s willing to pay the price. It’s the most moving thing I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s just extraordinary to me.”
A band of nearly 200 police officers arrested Jimmy Lai on Aug. 10, along with at least nine others connected with the Apple Daily newspaper, as part of an apparent crackdown on civil liberties in the island territory. They also raided the newspapers’ offices.
Those arrested are expected to be charged with colluding with foreign forces. Apple Daily, the newspaper that Lai founded in 1995 has distinguished itself over the years as a publication critical of the Chinese government in Beijing, and strongly pro-democracy.
On July 1, a controversial National Security Law went into effect in Hong Kong, having been imposed on the territory by Beijing, bypassing the Hong Kong legislature.
Under the new law, a person who is convicted of secession, subversion, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces will receive a minimum of 10 years in prison, with the possibility of a life sentence.
Lai, a Catholic, is currently out on bail. McGurn said he thinks it is very likely that Lai will ultimately go to prison, and he thinks China will want to make an example of Lai— a prominent figure being marched out in handcuffs— in order to frighten people into compliance.
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