Media mogul Jimmy Lai is one of eight on trial for participation in Tiananmen Square vigil.
Hong Kong Catholic media mogul Jimmy Lai pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from his involvement in a Tiananmen Square massacre memorial last year. He was one of eight people whose trial began this week in a Hong Kong court.
The eight defendants are being charged for organizing, participating and inciting others to participate in the Tiananmen vigil, which was not authorized by Hong Kong authorities. Lai and two others pleaded not guilty, while five of the defendants pleaded guilty.
Chow Hang-tun, who was vice chairwoman of the now defunct Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China told the court she understood “every word being uttered” in the reading of the charges against her. And then she said, “But I do not understand why it constitutes an offense. That is why I plead not guilty.”
For the past two years, citing the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, police forbade the gathering, marking the anniversary of the 1989 crackdown on democracy protestors in Beijing. Crowds began to assemble in Victoria Park in 2020, however, and police later arrested 26 activists. Lai was arrested in August of that year under Hong Kong’s new National Security Law.
Cardinal Joseph Zen, the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, has in the past called the arrest and prosecution of Lai part of a campaign of “political intimidation” against journalists and pro-civil rights activists.
“Jimmy Lai is obviously the one who runs the only newspaper which is still completely free,” Cardinal Zen said last December. “There is a clear policy direction: suppress the freedom of expression.”