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Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Activist Jimmy Lai Given 13-Month Jail Term

FILE - Democracy advocate Jimmy Lai, center, leaves the Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal in Hong Kong, Feb. 9, 2021.

Media tycoon and prominent pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai was sentenced Monday to 13 months in jail for taking part in an unauthorized candlelight vigil commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

Lai and two other activists, lawyer Chow Hang Tung and former reporter Gwyneth Ho, were convicted last Thursday of “incitement to knowingly take part in an unauthorized assembly” by participating in the event last year. Tung received a 12-month sentence Monday, while Ho was sentenced to six months.

The three were among a total of eight people who were tried for either organizing, participating in or inciting others to attend the June 4, 2020 event. The five other activists also received jail sentences Monday ranging from four to 14 months, among them Lee Cheuk-yan, leader of the now-defunct Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, which organized the assembly.

FILE - Activists hold a candlelit remembrance in Victoria Park in Hong Kong on June 4, 2020.
FILE - Activists hold a candlelit remembrance in Victoria Park in Hong Kong on June 4, 2020.

Lai and other pro-democracy activists have been targeted by Hong Kong authorities since China imposed a strict national security law last June in response to the massive and sometimes violent anti-government protests in 2019. The crackdown has transformed the financial hub from a semi-autonomous city to one increasingly under Beijing’s control.

Lai’s newspaper, Apple Daily, was forced to close its doors after 24 years, when Lai and other executives were arrested and charged under the security law. The 74-year-old Lai is already serving a 14-month sentence for taking part in several unauthorized rallies in 2019.