Global media leaders join forces with RSF to demand the immediate release of Jimmy Lai, a symbol of Hong Kong press freedom.

Jimmy Lai, a well-known character who represents press freedom in Hong Kong, has joined forces with Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the global organization that monitors press freedom and has its headquarters in Paris, to call for his immediate release. Jimmy Lai is a prominent figure who represents press freedom in Hong Kong.

In an unprecedented joint statement, prominent media figures from across the globe joined forces with Reporters Without Borders (RSF) to support the arrested Apple Daily editor and founder Jimmy Lai in Hong Kong and call for his immediate release. Aiming to call attention to the declining situation of press freedom in Hong Kong, the joint statement was signed by publishers, editors-in-chief, and senior editors from 42 nations, including two Nobel Peace Prize laureates.

The declaration, which was signed by 116 media figures from countries as diverse as Egypt, Turkey, India, Myanmar, the Gambia, and Mongolia, highlights Jimmy Lai’s importance in the struggle for press freedom on a worldwide scale. Through his independent media site, Apple Daily, Lai, a recipient of the RSF Press Freedom Prize, has devoted the last 25 years to defending the principles of free speech and the press. He has been held in a maximum-security facility since December 2020 after being repeatedly refused bail. Lai is presently incarcerated on accusations relating to participating in “unauthorized” pro-democracy demonstrations as well as fraud-related offenses. More troublingly, with his trial set to start on September 25, he now risks receiving a life sentence under the harsh national security statute.

We support Jimmy Lai. We reject all allegations against him because we think he has been singled out for prosecution for publishing unbiased news. The undersigned said, “We ask for his immediate release. We also call for the release of the 13 journalists now held in Hong Kong and the dismissal of all charges against the 28 journalists who have been the targets of national security and other legislation during the last three years.

The 2021 Nobel Peace Prize laureates Dmitry Muratov (Novaya Gazeta, Russia) and Maria Ressa (Rappler, the Philippines) are among the signatories, as well as notable individuals like A.G. Sulzberger, publisher of The New York Times; Fred Ryan, publisher of The Washington Post; Goli Sheikholeslami, CEO of The Washington Post; Matthew Kaminski, editor-in-chief of Politico; and numerous editors from major Leaders in the media from France, Germany, Sweden, and other nations have further shown their support.

“We have gathered these strong voices to demonstrate that the worldwide media community will not stand by while one publisher is being targeted. Everywhere that journalistic freedom is attacked, it is threatened globally. Before it is too late, the terrible harm that has been done to Hong Kong’s press freedom atmosphere over the last three years must be repaired, said RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire, along with the immediate release of Jimmy Lai and all 13 incarcerated journalists.

Jimmy Lai’s son Sebastien Lai thanked everyone for their help and said, “Hong Kong is today a city enveloped in a blanket of terror. Threats, legal action, and imprisonment are taken against those who criticize the government. Since 2020, my father has been incarcerated for speaking out against CCP authority. owing to the fact that he defended his beliefs. It is very heartwarming to hear him being supported by so many influential voices, including Nobel laureates and many of the top newspapers and media outlets worldwide.

China has used the national security law and other legal provisions over the last three years to prosecute at least 28 journalists, supporters of press freedom, and collaborators in Hong Kong. 13 people, including Jimmy Lai and six Apple Daily employees, are still being held while the publication has been forced shut down. The press freedom in Hong Kong has reportedly suffered its fatal blow as a result of this shutdown.

RSF’s 2023 World Press Freedom Index places Hong Kong at a worrying 140th position out of 180 nations, a significant drop from its 18th place standing only two decades earlier. China, which is in charge of Hong Kong, is placed 175th out of the 180 nations and territories considered.

More than 100 prominent media figures signed the joint statement that RSF produced, underscoring the urgent need to address the catastrophic situation in Hong Kong. Jimmy Lai has the unshakable support of the whole worldwide media community, which calls for the release of all incarcerated journalists as well. Along with this, the signatories demand a halt to the ongoing persecution of journalists under national security and other legislation, which has severely restricted press freedom in the area.

The joint statement and the remarkable number of signatories serve as a potent reminder that media professionals throughout the globe are concerned about the restriction of press freedom in Hong Kong, which is not an isolated problem. It makes it quite apparent that the world’s media organizations do not support the repression of independent journalism and will defend press freedom wherever it is in danger.

The world will be keenly monitoring the proceedings as Jimmy Lai’s trial draws near, hoping for a fair and reasonable verdict. The leaders of the foreign media who have banded together in favor of Lai and press freedom in Hong Kong are hoping that their combined voices will be heard louder in the territory’s calls for justice, freedom, and the return of a thriving and independent press.

Downloadable versions of the joint statement’s whole text and the list of signatories provide a detailed breakdown of the important people and groups who have backed Jimmy Lai’s cause. Their steadfast support is evidence of the lasting significance of a free press and the critical function it performs in defending democratic principles and promoting social responsibility.

News Desk

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