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Questions have emerged about coerced testimony in the trial of Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai, charged with sedition and collusion with foreign forces under the National Security Law. Allegations of false testimony under duress have focused on key prosecution witness Andy Li, who has testified that Lai financially supported and organized pro-democracy advocacy campaigns. 

Li, one of 12 Hong Kong activists detained by the Chinese coast guard while trying to flee to Taiwan in a speedboat in August 2020, was held in a prison in southern China for seven months for illegal border crossing. While in Chinese custody, Li was allegedly being tortured before being moved to a Hong Kong prison. After Li was called as a key witness in the case against Lai, international observers raised concerns over the possibility that Li’s testimony was coerced through torture. Following an appeal from Lai’s international legal team, in January, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture urged the court to exclude Li’s testimony as evidence pending investigation of illegal treatment.


If the Hong Kong court subsequently decides to accept coerced testimony against Jimmy Lai, the use of this testimony would not only constitute a blatant violation of principles of fairness and international standards of justice, but also reveal the politically-driven nature of the trial. Furthermore, the likely role of Chinese authorities in coercing testimony from a witness in a Hong Kong trial indicates gravely undue influence and interference by Chinese authorities in Hong Kong’s legal system. In any case, the allegations of torture are likely to further compromise the credibility of Hong Kong’s courts and lend credence to the widespread view that Hong Kong legal proceedings are subject to interference by mainland authorities.



As Hong Kong is seeing a devastating increase in political persecution, we will continue to pave the way to a free Hong Kong.

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