AP

Hong Kong publisher’s national security trial postponed

Nov 30, 2022, 8:50 PM | Updated: Dec 1, 2022, 5:55 am

A police officer with a service dog patrols ahead of Hong Kong publisher Jimmy Lai's trial outside ...

A police officer with a service dog patrols ahead of Hong Kong publisher Jimmy Lai's trial outside of the High Court in Hong Kong, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022. The trial of Lai, who was arrested in a crackdown on a pro-democracy movement, was postponed Thursday after the territory's leader asked China to effectively block him from hiring a British defense lawyer. (AP Photo/Anthony Kwan)

(AP Photo/Anthony Kwan)

HONG KONG (AP) — The trial of a Hong Kong newspaper publisher who was arrested in a crackdown on the city’s pro-democracy movement was postponed Thursday after the territory’s leader asked China to effectively block him from hiring a British defense lawyer.

Jimmy Lai, 74, faces a possible life sentence if convicted under a National Security Law imposed by China’s ruling Communist Party on the former British colony. The Hong Kong government objected after judges on Monday approved Lai’s plan to hire Timothy Owen, a veteran human rights lawyer.

Chief Executive John Lee asked China’s ceremonial legislature to decide whether foreign lawyers who didn’t normally practice in Hong Kong could be rejected for national security cases.

Beijing imposed the security law after pro-democracy protests that started in 2019. If Beijing intervenes, it would mark the sixth time the Communist-ruled national government has stepped into the city’s legal affairs.

Lai, the founder of the now-defunct Apple Daily, is accused of conspiring together with others to call for an imposition of sanctions or blockade, or engage in hostile activities against Hong Kong or China. He also faces a charge of collusion with foreign forces to endanger national security, and a separate sedition charge under a colonial-era law that is increasingly used to snuff out dissent.

As of late November, 25 people have been convicted under the law, which prohibits subversion, pro-independence activity, collusion with “foreign forces” and terrorism, according to the security bureau.

Hong Kong’s highest court on Monday rejected government objections against allowing Lai to hire Owen on security grounds as “undefined and unsubstantiated.”

On Thursday, the judges in Lai’s case approved an application from the Department of Justice to postpone the trial for a short period as the city awaits Beijing’s decision on Lee’s request. The next hearing is scheduled for Dec. 13.

Lee, Hong Kong’s former security chief who oversaw the crackdown, said Tuesday that Beijing was highly concerned and would act “as soon as possible,” but gave no timeline for an interpretation that would overrule the court’s earlier judgment.

Hong Kong was promised a “high degree of autonomy” when it returned to China in 1997, but Beijing and its local allies have rolled back Western-style civil rights, eroding the territory’s appeal as a global business center.

Owen did not appear in court because the immigration department has withheld his application for an extension of his work visa, Lai’s lawyer said. The British barrister currently has a visa for another case, he added.

The immigration department told AP that it will not comment on individual cases. It said it acts in accordance with the law and relevant policies when handling applications and judges each case on its individual merits.

On Tuesday, Hong Kong Bar Association Chair Victor Dawes urged the standing committee of the National People’s Congress to exercise its power to interpret the law sparingly. He said local courts can clarify any ambiguities in the future.

Beijing’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong and the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office supported Lee’s position in statements Monday.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Arizona will not approve new housing construction on the fast-growing edges of metro Phoenix that r...

Associated Press

Arizona Senate passes plan to manage rural groundwater, but final success is uncertain

A plan to manage rural groundwater passed the Arizona Senate amid concerns about the availability of sufficient water for future generations.

12 hours ago

A woman pauses while shopping at a Kohl's store in Clifton, N.J., Jan. 26, 2024. On Thursday, Feb. ...

Associated Press

Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge picked up last month in sign of still-elevated prices

An inflation gauge favored by the Federal Reserve increased in January, the latest sign that the slowdown in U.S. consumer price increases is occurring unevenly from month to month.

1 day ago

This undated image provided by Mikel Desmond shows his brother Marcus Tessier, who turned up in Dem...

Associated Press

Missing teen with autism found in New Mexico, about 200 miles away from his Arizona home

A missing teen with autism has been found in New Mexico — about 200 miles away from his home in southern Arizona.

1 day ago

A newly released report on last year’s fatal crash involving a pickup truck and a group of bicycl...

Associated Press

Report suggests steering of vehicle that caused fatal Goodyear bicycle crash worked fine

A new report on last year’s fatal Goodyear bicycle crash has cast doubts about the driver’s claim the vehicle’s steering locked up.

2 days ago

Israeli Embassy...

Associated Press

US airman dies after setting himself ablaze outside Israeli Embassy in Israel-Hamas war protest

An active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force has died after he set himself ablaze outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C.

4 days ago

Biden and Trump to visit Mexico border Thursday immigration...

Associated Press

Biden and Trump both plan trips to the Mexico border Thursday, dueling for advantage on immigration

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will make dueling trips to the U.S-Mexico border on Thursday.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

Hong Kong publisher’s national security trial postponed