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Catholic media mogul jailed, bankers threatened in Hong Kong

A court in Hong Kong has sentenced Catholic media mogul and pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai to 14 months in prison for participating in an unauthorized assembly in 2019.

Lai, 73, was among 10 pro-democracy politicians and activists also sentenced on May 28 on similar charges.

His Next Digital company publishes Apple Daily, a widely popular newspaper with a pro-democracy tilt and critical of Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing leadership under Chief Executive Carrie Lam and the authoritarian rule of the Chinese Communist Party.

Lai has been already serving a sentence in prison and faces two charges of subversive and seditious acts, which can carry life imprisonment if convicted under Hong Kong’s draconian national security law.

Despite his imminent jailing, Lai is determined not to give in to intimidation.

“If they can induce fear in you, that’s the cheapest way to control you and the most effective way and they know it. The only way to defeat the way of intimidation is to face up to fear and don’t let it frighten you,” Lai told BBC News.

The letters warned that if the directive is ignored, bankers will be “liable on indictment to a fine and to imprisonment for seven years.”

“I am exercising the power because Lai has been charged with two offenses of collusion with other countries or external forces to endanger national security,” Lee told journalists on May 27. “It is my duty to specify in my notice to the relevant parties what will be the consequences if they fail to comply with my direction.”

Critics allege that by nailing Lai and Apple Daily, Beijing is attempting to crush the once-vibrant and independent media industry in the city altogether.

Lam, the city’s Catholic chief executive, defended the actions as necessary to reinforce the city’s status as a financial hub “so that no-one can use our financial system to carry out acts endangering national security,” Reuters reported.

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