The United States condemns the October 25 verdict against Hong Kong democracy advocate Jimmy Lai, founder of the Apple Daily newspaper, on spurious fraud charges.
We remain deeply concerned about the deterioration in protection for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the systematic dismantling of Hong Kong’s autonomy under the National Security Law (NSL). These include increased efforts to wield the NSL to suppress independent media, to silence dissenting views, and to stifle freedom of speech.
Though Lai’s fraud trial was not on NSL grounds, local authorities nonetheless imposed the NSL’s more restrictive legal procedures for this non-NSL case. These actions undermine the PRC’s obligations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, which is a binding international agreement, to uphold Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and protected rights and freedoms.
We urge PRC authorities to restore respect for press freedom in Hong Kong, where a once-vibrant independent media environment has all but disappeared. Efforts to stifle press freedom and restrict the free flow of information undermine Hong Kong’s democratic institutions and hurt Hong Kong’s credibility as a business and financial hub.