Express editor calls for release of jailed media tycoon Jimmy Lai in Hong Kong

The Daily Express has joined more than 100 news organisations calling for the release of a media tycoon jailed in Hong Kong.

Jimmy Lai, who is a naturalised British citizen, founded a newspaper that was critical of the Chinese state.

The 75-year-old was arrested in 2020 and faces a life sentence under three charges including “collusion with foreign forces”.

Express editor Gary Jones signed a joint statement expressing support for Mr Lai and his fight for media freedom, which was organised by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

The statement said: “In targeting this 75 year-old press freedom emblem, the Chinese regime has taken its attempts to control information beyond its borders, and made it a concern for the entire world.

“When press freedom is threatened anywhere, it is threatened everywhere.”

Founded in 1995, Mr Lai’s Apple Daily newspaper was one of the few mainstream Chinese-language outlets critical of Beijing.

He was arrested under Hong Kong’s national security law and is due to stand trial in September.

Campaigners say the controversial law has been used to intimidate and imprison journalists as part of a crackdown on press freedom.

Hong Kong has plummeted down RSF’s World Press Freedom Index – from 14th place in 2002 to 140th this year.

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That statement was backed by 116 media chiefs from 42 countries. British signatories included editors of The Telegraph, The Times, The Sun, The Daily Mirror and Mail Newspapers.

The statement went on: “We stand with Jimmy Lai. We believe he has been targeted for publishing independent reporting, and we condemn all charges against him.

“We call for his immediate release, for the national security charges against him to be dropped, and for his convictions on other charges to be overturned.

“The universal right to press freedom must be protected for the people of Hong Kong and around the world.”

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