Jimmy Lai, the founder of Next Media, and his three companies were charged with colluding with foreign forces in violation of the Hong Kong National Security Law. Lai earlier applied for the termination of the hearing, alleging that the government's obstruction of his appointment of Queen's Counsel Timothy Wynn Owen (Tim Owen) was considered to be "persecution" rather than prosecution, and that he would not be denied a fair trial. The three designated judges of the National Security Law issued a ruling today (3 December), holding that the designated judges of the National Security Law must abide by their oaths, and there is no evidence to prove that the NSC acted in bad faith in handling the Lai case, and that Lai will receive a fair trial. Therefore, Lai's application for termination of the hearing was unanimously rejected.

The four defendants, Jimmy Lai (4), Apple Daily Co., Ltd., Apple Daily Printing Co., Ltd., and Apple Daily Internet Co., Ltd., are charged with conspiracy to publish seditious publications and conspiracy to collude with foreign forces, and the trial is scheduled to commence on September 75, and a case management hearing will be held tomorrow (9 December), and will be tried by three NSL-designated judges: To Libing, Li Sulan and Li Yunteng.

Jimmy Lai's case for violating the National Security Law was originally scheduled to begin on December 2022, 12, but due to interpretation issues, the trial will not begin until September this year after being adjourned.

Public hearings will be held and foreign judges will be appointed

In their judgments, the three judges stated that Lai challenged the instructions that the case be heard by the Designated Judge, but that the Designated Judge was appointed by the Chief Executive on the recommendation of the Judicial Recommendation Committee, that any candidate was appointed on the basis of his or her professional qualifications, that the Designated Judge was required to abide by the Judicial Oath and the Guidelines on the Conduct of Judges, that ordinary court hearings were also public, that decisions were publicly released, that High Court cases heard by three judges would also explain the reasons for their decisions, and that foreign judges could also be appointed as designated judges. This case is also one of the cases involving foreign judges.

Seven designated judges have ruled in favour of Lai

In addition, there are no public figures on the number of appointed judges, but it is not believed that the Chief Executive can manipulate anything through this. For example, seven judges from the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Court of Final Appeal have all dealt with the case on whether Tim Owen can represent Jimmy Lai, and their rulings have all been in his favor. This incident is strong evidence of Hong Kong's judicial independence.

The Lai bail judge was granted no disqualification

In addition, one of the Designated Judges in the case, Lee Yun-teng, also granted Lai bail, although his decision was later revoked and he was not disqualified as a Designated Judge.

There are attempts by foreign forces to interfere with Hong Kong's judicial independence

Ironically, foreign powers have threatened to sanction judges handling the National Security Law in an attempt to interfere with Hong Kong's judicial independence. In their verdict, the judges stressed that these threats would not affect the judge's observance of the judicial oath.

Taken together, the three judges found that Lai's grounds did not prove that outsiders would feel that the appointment of judges was biased, and if Lai's arguments were established, he would not be tried in any court in Hong Kong. This is clearly contrary to the public interest and the original legislative intent of the National Security Law.

The NSC is not required to disclose its decisions

In addition, Lai alleged that the government had obstructed his hiring of Tim Owen, and the judge found that there was no evidence that the NSC acted in bad faith. Regarding Lai's suggestion that the Immigration Department should reject Tim Owen's visa application, the Department of Justice did not inform him of the matter. The judge held that Tim Owen had withdrawn his application at that time, that the Department of Justice and the Immigration Department were not obliged to disclose the decision to Lai, and that the NSL stated that the NSC was not required to disclose his decision.

The right to choose a barrister is not absolute

The judge found that there was no abuse of procedure in the present case. Lai's right to choose a barrister is not absolute, Tim Owen is not fully qualified to practise in Hong Kong, and Lai's team already has a number of senior barristers with extensive experience in handling criminal cases, and therefore dismissed Lai's application for termination of the hearing on the grounds that he could receive a fair trial.

Jimmy Lai wants Tim Owen to guide the interpretation and review process. (See the figure below)


Lai challenged the opaque appointment process for appointing the appointed judges

In his application, Lai's lawyer argued that the process of appointing judges under the NSL was biased because the appointed judges were only appointed for a one-year term of office, and the criteria for appointing the Chief Executive were not known to outsiders, nor did outsiders know how designated judges would be renewed. The opaque appointment process and insecure tenure may give outsiders the impression that the appointed judges will avoid becoming disobedient judges.

It is believed that the government maliciously obstructed the hiring of the British Imperial Palace

In addition, Lai also believed that the government maliciously obstructed Lai's hiring of British Queen's Counsel Tim Owen, bluntly saying that this was "persecution" rather than prosecution, and pointed out that when the National Security Commission assessed the national security risks involved in Lai's appointment of Tim Owen on January 1 this year, it recommended that the immigration department should refuse Tim Owen's application for a visa. However, Lai's legal team wrote to the Department of Justice on the 11th of the same month asking for clarification on whether the NPC's interpretation of the law would not affect the court's earlier decision, and the Department of Justice replied to Lai's letter at that time without mentioning the NSC's decision. Lai later entered into office on the NSC matter, and only in March this year did he obtain the NSC's decision in the affidavit, and Lai believed that it was the duty of the Department of Justice to voluntarily inform the NSC of its decision.

The Department of Justice found that no injustice had been caused

In response, the representative of the Department of Justice said that judges were required to abide by the judicial oath and that it was difficult to say that they would be influenced by the Government, and stressed that although the Chief Executive appointed designated judges, the cases that judges had to hear remained within the competence of the judiciary and did not cause injustice.

The High Court ruled that the work of the NSC was not subject to court interference

In addition, Jimmy Lai earlier advised the Immigration Department to deny a visa to the NSC's assessment of the national security risks involved in Lai's hiring of Tim Owen, arguing that he had overstepped his authority and filed a case for judicial review, while Chief Justice Poon Siu-chu of the High People's Court issued a judgment in mid-month, holding that the work of the NSC should not be interfered with by any organ, including the courts, and ruled that the NSC's approach did not exceed its authority.

Case number: HCCC51/2022

Jimmy Lai's case|Lai said that the obstruction of hiring Tim Own was persecution and asked to terminate the hearing Next Monday's ruling that the National Security Commission refused to issue a visa to Tim Owen and exceeded its authority Jimmy Lai applied for permission to review the case, and the official ruled against Jimmy Lai|Lai applied for termination of the hearing The accusing party obstructed his appointment of Tim Owen for persecution of Jimmy Lai, and the appointment of Tim Owen filed for judicial review Pointing out that the National Security Commission exceeded its authority and recommended that the Immigration Department refuse to issue a visa|Government Proposed Legislation Overseas barristers participating in national security cases must first obtain a certificate from the Chief Executive and Jimmy Lai's appointment of Tim Owen Lai's interpretation of the law does not affect the ruling of the Court of Final Court Ask the Department of Justice to issue a statement Jimmy Lai's case - the Department of Justice begins to amend the legislation Lin Dingguo said that he must be the first weapon: a tool for the protection of national security by law