Chinese tycoon Jimmy Lai’s imprisonment in Hong Kong sparked an outcry from the international community. After being released on bail, he has been awarded the Golden Pen of Freedom and is now free to travel throughout Europe.
The World Association of News Publishers has awarded Jimmy Lai, an imprisoned Hong Kong pro-democracy campaigner, the Golden Pen of Freedom award for 2021. The award was given out on December 1st during the association’s virtual World News Media Congress for 2021. According to a statement on the association’s website, wan-ifra.org, Lai shared the honor with staff members of his defunct daily, the Apple Daily.
The award was received on behalf of the imprisoned recipients by the publisher’s son, Sebastien Lai, according to the announcement. “Thank you very much for this honor,” the son added in the statement, “but please keep dad, the Apple Daily staff in Hong Kong, and the people of Hong Kong in your thoughts as these events develop.”
In times of unrest, journalism “is a check against the strong and the voice of the people,” he said.
According to the Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP), the Apple Daily was the former British colony’s most widely circulated pro-democracy daily until it was forced to cease in June. The Hong Kong Free Press pointed out that the journal has been harshly critical of Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping and other mainland Chinese authorities.
Support from the United States
Senator Rick Scott of the United States congratulated Lai on the honor through Twitter. “The US stands with you against General Secretary Xi’s persecution,” the Florida Republican stated.
Congratulations to Jimmy Lai and the Apple Daily crew on this well-deserved distinction for their courage and dedication in the struggle for Hong Kongers’ independence. The United States stands with you in your fight against General Secretary Xi’s persecution. https://t.co/JHL76rXVIo
December 2, 2021 — Rick Scott (@SenRickScott)
According to the Globe and Mail, the publisher is now serving a jail term for taking part in unlawful pro-democracy rallies.
The Daily Apple was forced to close after the company’s assets were frozen and the editor-in-chief and several staff members were arrested, according to the publication. According to the HKFP, the proceedings against the newspaper were a result of mainland China imposing a national security statute on the city.
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Lai is included in the Bloomberg 50.
When Lai got the Golden Pen of Freedom award, he was also named one of The Bloomberg 50, a group of people and ideas that, according to the journal, “shaped global business in 2021.”
“Communist Party authorities seem to have determined early on in their assault on Hong Kong’s protest movement that Lai and his pro-democracy publication would be their No. 1 target,” according to Bloomberg.
It cited previous court decisions against the publication and pointed out that Lai had yet to face allegations of “colluding” with foreigners against China. “The message to the rest of the city’s people is clear: Watch what you say in the new Hong Kong.”
Reporters from all across the world have recognized you.
Lai received a special award from Reporters Without Borders at its 2020 Press Freedom Awards Ceremony in Taiwan. According to the organization’s website, rsf.org, Lai was unable to attend the event due to criminal charges, and his award was given to his son, Sebastian Lai. According to the website, the Hong Kong police have filed six accusations against the publisher:
- “instigating others to join an illicit gathering”
- “A conspiracy to obstruct the administration of justice”
- “Collusion with foreign powers” is a conspiracy.
- “Colluding with foreign forces” is a term used to describe colluding with foreign forces.
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