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Hong Kong tycoon gets 14-month jail term over 2019 protest
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Hong Kong media tycoon and outspoken pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai was sentenced to more jail time Friday over his role in an anti-government protest in 2019, as authorities step up a crackdown on dissent in the city.
Lai and nine others were charged with incitement to take part in an unauthorized assembly when they walked down a road with thousands of residents on Oct. 1, 2019, to protest against dwindling political freedoms in Hong Kong. All 10 pleaded guilty to organizing an unauthorized assembly.
Lai, 73, was sentenced to 14 months in prison. He is currently serving a separate 14-month jail term for other convictions earlier this year also related to unauthorized rallies in 2019, when hundreds of thousands repeatedly took to the streets in the biggest challenge to Beijing since the city was handed from British to Chinese control in 1997. Beijing promised that the territory could retain its freedoms not found on the mainland for 50 years.
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With the two sentences combined, Lai will serve a total of 20 months behind bars.
The founder of The Apple Daily, a feisty pro-democracy tabloid, Lai is also being investigated under the city’s sweeping national security law, imposed last year, on suspicion of colluding with foreign powers to intervene in the Hong Kong affairs.
Also receiving jail terms of 18 months each were former lawmakers Albert Ho and Leung Kwok-hung, as well as Lee Cheuk-yan, a pro-democracy activist and ex-lawmaker who helped organize annual candlelight vigils in Hong Kong to commemorate the bloody crackdown in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Figo Chan, head of a political organization known for organizing protest rallies in the city, also received 18 months behind bars.
Three activists — Yeung Sum, Cyd Ho and Avery Ng — received 14-month jail terms. Two others, Richard Tsoi and Sin Chung-kai, had their jail terms suspended.