Hong Kong billionaire and opposition newspaper owner Jimmy Lai has been sentenced to 14 months in prison after being found guilty of unauthorised assembly. Mr Lai was one of several activists in court on Friday who were earlier found guilty of charges relating to large pro-democracy demonstrations in 2019.
Hong Kong’s District Court Judge Amanda Woodcock carried out the sentencing, which is reduced by three months in mitigation. The 73-year-old founder of Apple Daily is a fierce critic of Beijing. The verdict comes as the mainland is increasingly cracking down on Hong Kong’s rights and freedoms. Several other activists were sentenced on Friday for participating in two demonstrations, on 18 August and 31 August 2019. They include veteran campaigner Martin Lee, 82, and lawyer Margaret Ng, 73, whose sentences were suspended. Martin Lee, who helped launch the city’s largest opposition Democratic Party in the 1990s and is often called Hong Kong’s “father of democracy”, was given a suspended sentence of 11 months in the same case.
Mr Lai and Mr Lee are two of nine of Hong Kong’s leading pro-democracy advocates who have been sentenced to jail for organising and taking part in the protests which triggered a harsh crackdown from Beijing.