Portmarnock, Co Dublin, native and Queen’s counsel Caoilfhionn Gallagher is to act for pro-democracy campaigner and journalist Jimmy Lai, who has been imprisoned in Hong Kong for pro-democracy activism by the Chinese authorities.
Lai has been an outspoken critic of Beijing’s control over Hong Kong.
Based in Doughty Street Chambers in London, Gallagher has confirmed that she will act with a team of international lawyers as international counsel for the media entrepreneur and pro-democracy campaigner.
Lai founded and published the popular Apple Daily newspaper, which was shut down by the Chinese authorities in June 2021, shortly after five of its senior executives were arrested and its assets frozen.
Lai is currently being held in Stanley Prison, Hong Kong.
“Jimmy Lai is a man of courage and integrity and an inspiring writer, media owner and campaigner,” Gallagher said, adding that he had taken great personal risks to defend the freedom of the press and to fight for democracy.
Gallagher added that she and her team would pursue all available legal remedies to defend the rule of the law and to fight for the freedom of the press.
Lai has been repeatedly targeted by the authorities since the passing of the National Security Law in June 2020, and faces multiple legal proceedings over his writings, interviews, and Apple Daily’s journalism, along with his participation in peaceful protests.
Charges include allegations of collusion with foreign forces, involvement in unauthorised protests and seditious publication charges. Under the controversial National Security Law, he faces a potential life sentence.
He has been convicted in a number of cases to date, including most recently in December 2021 for his involvement in a vigil marking the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing. He received a 13-month sentence.
Shining a light
Sebastien Lai, Jimmy’s son, said that journalism is a means of “shining light in dark corners” and exposing secrets and hidden stories.
“With Apple Daily closing in Hong Kong, and a crackdown against journalism across the region, more and more is becoming hidden and unknown.
“I am delighted that Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC and her team will represent my father at international level, to challenge the violations of his rights, and protect media freedom in Hong Kong,” he said.