This May 5, 2020 photo shows Jimmy Lai Chee-ying appearing in court on unauthorized assembly charge in Hong Kong, China. (LUI SIU WAI / XINHUA)
HONG KONG – The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government has strongly opposed the British government’s interference in a court case involving former media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying and false allegation and criticism against the SAR government.
The protest came after a foreign office minister met UK-based lawyers for the founder of the now-defunct Apple Daily newspaper to discuss his court case.
According to media reports, Lai's purported "international legal team" had earlier requested the UK prime minister for an urgent meeting to discuss ways to secure the release of Lai, who is being remanded in custody pending trial. It has also been reported that the UK Minister of State (Indo-Pacific) Anne-Marie Trevelyan met the "legal team" on Tuesday upon request.
READ MORE: National security at risk if UK counsel allowed for Lai
“Apart from admitting that the authority had been providing support to Lai, they also falsely alleged that the HKSAR government targeted certain persons including Lai,” the SAR government said in a statement issued on Wednesday.
We will never tolerate, and strongly deplore, any form of interference by any foreign power or individual with the judicial proceedings and internal affairs of the HKSAR.
The “legal team" and the UK government’s acts “attempted to undermine the rule of law of Hong Kong and interfere with the independent exercise of judicial power in Hong Kong”, the government said, opposing and condemning those acts.
The SAR government strongly urged the relevant parties to respect the spirit of the rule of law and stop interfering with the Hong Kong’s internal affairs.
Hong Kong judicial system has always been highly regarded by the international communities, said the government.
“Any country, organization, or individual attempting to interfere with judicial proceedings before the HKSAR courts with political power, or any defendant attempting to seek help from and collude with foreign political power to evade criminal justice process is a blatant act undermining the rule of law of Hong Kong and interfering with the HKSAR's internal affairs,” it reads, adding that such acts by a defendant highly likely constitute contempt of court.
ALSO READ: Ex-Apple Daily execs admit colluding with foreign forces
“We will never tolerate, and strongly deplore, any form of interference by any foreign power or individual with the judicial proceedings and internal affairs of the HKSAR,” the government warned.