Trial began December 18, 2023. Support Jimmy Lai today.

Show your support by using the hashtag #FreeJimmyLai

Day 50: March 21, 2024

The Witness: Live Update | Jimmy Lai Trial Day 50: Andy Li: Transitioned to International Lobbying After Three Rounds of Crowdfunding for Advertisements

Next Digital founder Jimmy Lai and three related companies of Apple Daily are charged with “conspiracy to collude with foreign forces” and other crimes. The case entered its 50th day of trial on Thursday (21st) at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts (acting as the High Court). The fourth co-defendant witness, Andy Li, one of the “12 Hongkongers,” testified on his seventh day, mentioning that around September 2019, after three rounds of crowdfunding for advertisements, he gradually transitioned to international lobbying. He confirmed that in November of the same year, he arranged for British parliamentary representatives to come to Hong Kong to monitor the District Council elections, stating, “because they were concerned about the situation of freedom and democracy in Hong Kong at that time.”

The prosecution presented WhatsApp records between Li and Luke de Pulford, a member of the Conservative Party’s Human Rights Commission, showing that some representatives who came to Hong Kong to monitor the elections had deleted contents of their WhatsApp conversations. Li explained, “If these people who were coming to monitor the elections had such records on their phones, saying they were coming to monitor the elections, we would be afraid they would be designated as persona non grata (unwelcome entrants) and be thrown out, so we asked them to delete the messages related to the elections first.”

16:29 Court Adjourned

15:56 Li: Team Discussed Creating Sanction List

Judge Alex Lee asked why Li sent the document to Samuel Chu. Li said he didn’t know if it was “Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong” member “momomo” or another member’s idea, but thought “if we propose sanction targets, this document might help.” The prosecution asked if the sanction list was applicable to the United States. Li agreed and added that he “never received a sanction list for other countries.”

Regarding Li’s claim of discussing the creation of a sanction list, he added that he didn’t remember the details, “roughly talking about whether sanctions are good, whether sanctioning this person or that person is good, whether to make a doc (document).” The prosecution continued with the messages between Li and Samuel Chu. Li said, “The public knows that there is a rumor of a 100 pages strong list being compiled by the ‘Lam Chau team,’ but as far as I know, that’s it.”

Additionally, Li mentioned “Joey” in the message, and he confirmed in court that it referred to Joey Siu.

15:20 Court Displays “Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong” Suggested Sanctions Targets Document

The prosecution displayed a document file forwarded to Li by a “Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong” member “momomo” on December 16 of the same year. The cover of the document read “Version 1 Nov 19 Profiles of Perpetrators of Human Rights and Democracy Abuse in Hong Kong (Confidential),” indicating that the information was collected in Hong Kong and bearing the logos of the “Hong Kong Higher Education Institutions International Affairs Delegation” and “Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong.”

Li stated that this document contained their suggested sanction targets. The document in court categorized the sanction targets into four levels:

Level 1 is “State Actors who Condone and Give Orders for Human Rights Violations,” including the then-Chief Executive Carrie Lam;

Level 2 is “State Actors including politicians, who instigate human rights violations,” involving senior police officers and Executive Council members;

Level 3 is “State And Private Actors Who Aid And Abet Human Rights Violations,” involving MTR staff;

Level 4 is “Organizations Who Facilitate Human Rights Violations.”

Li explained that after meeting with U.S. House members and Senators, they needed to promote follow-up actions, so Li sent the list of sanction targets to Samuel Chu for him to decide when and how to pass this information to the U.S. Congress members and Senators. Judge Alex Lee asked who came up with the idea of creating the sanctions list. Li said he didn’t remember and that he didn’t create it, but the “Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong” team had already discussed creating a sanctions list.

The prosecution asked if Finn Lau was involved in the discussion of the sanctions list. Li said he wasn’t sure.

Li: Visited the U.S. in December 2019 to Meet Republican Members

The prosecution asked about the political party of Rick Scott and Todd Young. Li said they were Republicans and described all the Congress members he met during that trip as Republicans, “concerned about Hong Kong issues.” When asked about the content of the meetings, Li reiterated that he told the U.S. Congress members and Senators about the “victims” in the democracy activities and asked them to “take action.”

Li continued, saying that Samuel Chu instructed them beforehand that “you don’t need to go into a lot of detail in the meeting because the staffers of both sides, Samuel Chu is our staffer, will talk about the details and concrete things after the meeting.” Therefore, the meeting “mainly talked about a few victims’ stories and politely thanked them for their concern about Hong Kong affairs.”

The prosecution displayed a photo published on the “Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong” Facebook page on December 11, 2019, showing Li and Samuel Chu meeting with Todd Young and others. After viewing the photo, Li remembered that “another chaperone for that trip was Katherine Cheng.” He mentioned that he met with each U.S. House Representatives and Senator separately, and he advanced the expenses, which were later reimbursed from the Project Hong Kong Trust.

14:32 Li: Samuel Chu once visited Hong Kong for the district election monitoring mission

The prosecution pointed out that after meeting with Rick Scott in Hong Kong in September 2019, Li met with him again on Capitol Hill in December 2019, along with U.S. Senators Ted Cruz, Todd Young, and Marsha Blackburn. Li confirmed this and stated that the American division of “Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong” arranged for him to join the meeting. He didn’t recall who exactly initiated this arrangement. Li remembered that Shirley Ho, a theoretical astrophysicist, handled the logistics, and Samuel Chu, then a member of the Hong Kong Democracy Council (HKDC), was responsible for contacting U.S. Congressmen and Senators. When asked if he had mentioned this trip to Chan Tsz-wah before leaving, Li said he did, and Chan responded with encouragement, suggesting that Li mention his previous meeting with Rick Scott in Hong Kong to smooth things over.

The prosecution asked if Li discussed the meeting with Samuel Chu before meeting Rick Scott. Li recalled that Samuel Chu had visited Hong Kong during the November district council election monitoring mission, and they had a chat. Later, they communicated on WhatsApp. The prosecution showed a Telegram record between Li and Samuel Chu, showing they had a TG call, but Li didn’t remember the content of the conversation.

12:59 Lunch break

12:45 Li: Mark Simon once advanced funds for the election monitoring mission

The prosecution continued to show the accounts of “Lam Chau,” revealing a “cash advancement” entry on November 13, 2019, marked “EOM” (Election Observation Mission), with Li paying “Funder 3” HK$30,000. Another entry marked “EOM security” involves HK$62,000. The prosecution cites six transactions marked “EOM,” totaling HK$552,000. Li confirms this amount.

Li added that Funder 3, or Wilson Li Chung-chak, had not provided him with complete documentation at the time of his arrest, so he could only confirm the amount he had paid to “Funder 3.” The actual expenses for the EOM funded by “Funder 3” were still unclear.

The prosecution showed Li’s bank statement, indicating that Mark Simon deposited HK$500,000 into his account on November 21. Li explains that his account balance was only about HK$260,000 at the time, and with the upcoming election monitoring mission, he informed Chan Tsz-wah that they might be short of funds. Mark Simon’s transfer of HK$500,000 was a last-minute solution.

The prosecution asked if the US$420,000 transferred by “The Project Hong Kong Trust” to Li on February 28, 2020, covered all the funds he had advanced. Li states that he had calculated all the advanced amounts and deducted any refunds, such as Mark Simon’s HK$500,000, leaving a balance of US$420,000 to be refunded in February.

12:18 Li Details Election Observation Group

Regarding Li’s claim that observers were divided into different groups in Hong Kong, Kowloon, and the New Territories on the day of the election observation, Li added that he was in charge of the New Territories group, responsible for observers including Lord David Alton, Australian Federal MP Vicki Dunne, and representatives from Sweden and Denmark. He couldn’t recall if the group included the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, Mantas Adomenas.

The prosecution asked who arranged Li to be responsible for Lord Alton’s observation itinerary. Li said it was himself, and Chan Tsz-wah at the time noticed Lord Alton on the list of observers and instructed Li to seize the opportunity to build connections with him. Chan also said, “EOM (Election Observation Mission) keep up the good work.” Li added that the distribution of observers was based on political stance and nationality, “for example, dispersing Swedes and MPs across different groups.”

The prosecution asked if Li had the opportunity to meet Lord Alton after the observation group. Li recalled that on the last day of the observation group or the morning after it ended, he, Lord Alton, Luke de Pulford, Martin Lee, and Anson Chan had a meeting at the W Hotel. “I joined that meeting as a representative of the EOM,” Li said, and he also chatted with Lord Alton and de Pulford.

Li continued, “The outcome of the meeting was that Martin Lee and Anson Chan talked about the democratic situation in Hong Kong, and Lord Alton and de Pulford, on the UK side, would try to raise concerns as much as possible.” Although Lord Alton “doesn’t represent the UK government,” as a parliamentarian, he said he would raise concerns within his capabilities.

The prosecution asked who instructed Li to join this meeting. Li said he couldn’t remember who informed him about the meeting, “likely from the Lam Chau side and the Whitehouse consultancy. I told T (Chan Tsz-wah), and he told me to join the meeting.” The prosecution further asked if Chan Tsz-wah attended the meeting. Li said no.

Judge Alex Lee Wan-tang asked if Li attended the meeting as a representative of “Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong” or “Hong Kong Story.” Li responded, “Both work,” and noted that among the members of “Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong,” he was the only one who attended the meeting. The prosecution asked what the UK side was concerned about. Li said it was the “deteriorating democratic situation in Hong Kong.”

Regarding the expenses of the observation group, the prosecution asked who paid for them. Li said some expenses were paid by the “Lam Chau” crowdfunding campaign, approximately several hundred thousand Hong Kong dollars, “and some delegates paid for themselves,” like the Swedish and Danish representatives.

12:05 Li: Foreign Representatives Deleted Messages Before Coming to Hong Kong To Avoid Being Seen as Unwelcome Entrants

The prosecution pointed out that in the documents related to the district council election observation group, Li claimed to have received politicians from various countries. Li said, “It’s better to say they were delegates, as not all of them were politicians.” The prosecution showed a WhatsApp record from November 22, 2019, between Li and Luke de Pulford, a member of the UK Conservative Party’s Human Rights Commission.

De Pulford said, “Lord Alton has deleted WhatsApp but has your number,” and later deleted some WhatsApp content. The prosecution asked why the messages were deleted. Li explained it in two parts: firstly, due to the political environment in Hong Kong in November 2019, members judged that “the Hong Kong government did not welcome foreigners to observe the elections.”

Li continued, “So if these people preparing to observe the elections had such records on their phones, we were afraid they would be designated as persona non grata and be thrown out. So we asked them to delete the messages related to election observation first.”

On the other hand, if the observers were deemed unwelcome entrants and lost contact, “the back-up plan would be to talk to their respective consulates, consulates, and the media… We would tell the consul that their citizen, the delegate, has been designated as persona non grata, and we would talk to the media of that country about this. That was the corresponding plan.”

Li said his conversation with de Pulford was about Li asking de Pulford to “message me when you have time” before entering Hong Kong to show that he was okay. De Pulford then deleted the relevant messages. Li said that after de Pulford entered Hong Kong, “I expected him to contact me back” and not be treated as an unwelcome entrant.

11:22 Court adjourns

10:56 Li Confirms Arrangements for British Politicians to Monitor Hong Kong District Elections

The prosecution continued to question Li about the election observation group for the November 2019 District Council elections. A document titled “Election Observation Mission” was presented, mentioning “A group of volunteers from Hong Kong organized an independent observation mission to observe the Sixth District Council Election (The Election) in Hong Kong, which took place on 24 November 2019.” and “The EOM was co-organized by ‘Fight for Freedom Stand with Hong Kong’ and ‘Hong Kong Story’, two non-governmental organizations…”

Li confirmed his involvement in organizing the observation group, stating he was one of the main organizers in Hong Kong. When asked who suggested his participation, Li recalled that “Lam Chau” and the consulting firm “Whitehouse” mentioned that Lord David Alton from the UK House of Lords wanted to “observe the elections” in Hong Kong, but they preferred a Hong Kong activist organization to invite him rather than Lord Alton taking the initiative. Li then offered the name of “Hong Kong Story” directly to them. “Lam Chau” and “Whitehouse” thought it would be better to invite more people, so they asked Li if he could arrange for more visitors to Hong Kong, which he confirmed he could. Li also informed Chan Tsz-wah of these arrangements, who supported the organization of the observation group and hoped Li would expand his network on this occasion.

The prosecution asked why Chan wanted Li to expand his network. Li explained that he was transitioning to international lobbying work to advocate for freedom and democracy in Hong Kong.

The prosecution further inquired about the individuals who participated in the observation group and whom Li received. Li said he was the inviting party, so he technically received everyone. On the day of the election monitoring, the observers were divided into different groups to monitor elections in various parts of Hong Kong. The prosecution asked why they came to Hong Kong to monitor the elections. Li responded that they were concerned about the situation of freedom and democracy in Hong Kong at that time.

11:22 Court adjourns

11:05 Li: After Meeting Rick Scott, He Said ‘Keep Up the Good Work’

The prosecution presented another WhatsApp group created by Mark Simon called “HK Sunday meeting,” which included Li and US consulate staff Alan Brinker. Alan Brinker suggested a meeting place with Rick Scott in the group, and Mark Simon later sent two photos. Li explained that the photos showed road closures. The prosecution asked if this was related to protests, and Li said he couldn’t recall the exact details of that day.

The prosecution asked if Rick Scott met with others besides Mark Simon, ect. Li believed he must have met other people, but he wasn’t sure who. The prosecution further inquired if Li mentioned the meeting to Chan Tsz-wah afterward. Li said he probably did, saying something like “keep up the good work.”

10:45 Li: Lobbied in France Through Hong Kong Organization

The prosecution showed a private conversation between Li and Chan Tsz-wah from September 29, where Chan said, “France Up to your call to do it or not,” and Li replied, “will judge. Thx.” Li added to his earlier statement about his trip to France, mentioning that he lobbied through the local Hong Kong organization “Le Comité pour la Liberté à Hong-Kong” and discussed policies supporting freedom and democracy in Hong Kong. The conversation was about whether to continue lobbying in France.

Li also revealed that besides the WhatsApp message, he and Chan Tsz-wah also discussed via Telegram Call about his return from the United Nations, his return from France, meeting Rick Scott, and generally transitioning to international lobbying. “Sorry, these few events were roughly parallel, so the discussions were all mixed together,” Li said.

10:30 Li: Chan Tsz-wah once suggested helping US Senator Rick Scott run for President

The court displayed the WhatsApp group “Coffee on Sunday,” established by Chan Tsz-wah on September 29, 2019, with members including Andy Li and Mark Simon, to arrange the visit of US Senator Rick Scott to Hong Kong. Mark Simon stated on the same day, “Okay great. I am adding Consul Alan Brinker & Mr Scott Sciretta…” The prosecution asked who Alan Brinker was, and Li said he was a staff member of the US Consulate.

The conversation shows Chan Tsz-wah asking in the group, “@AL (Andy Li) I think you could also present how UN proposed which ain’t working,” to which the prosecution asked what it meant. Andy Li said it referred to “my experience coming back from the UN.”

Chan Tsz-wah also stated in the group, “Indeed @AL (Andy Li) as discussed, we can disclose certain information and we two could provide assistance on the next campaign,” and the prosecution asked what activity it referred to. Li said it was about the next crowdfunding campaign.

The prosecution then showed a message from Mark Simon in the group: “To give you some background, this is Sen. Rick Scott he is the former governor of Florida and was just elected as senator. He has a future presidential candidate in 2024 and so he is very interested in China and foreign policy.”

After reading this message, Li clarified that the “next activity” mentioned was not about crowdfunding but Rick Scott’s presidential campaign. Li explained, “T (Chan Tsz-wah) hinted at wanting us to help Rick Scott run for president, but not to mention our financial involvement in crowdfunding and advance payments” to avoid violating regulations related to Rick Scott’s presidential campaign.

Mark Simon in the group said, “Also, What would really impress him is if you talk about the GoFundMe, shows support.” Li explained that Mark Simon mentioned the global crowdfunding campaign for newspaper ads would impress Rick Scott and suggested mentioning the crowdfunding during their meeting with Rick Scott, “As for why this would particularly impress Rick Scott, I don’t know.”

10:16 Li confirms international lobbying in France

Li continued, saying Chan Tsz-wah knew about Rick Scott’s visit to Hong Kong and arranged for Li to meet him. Li mentioned that he had already visited the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and met with Sébastien Gillioz, who told him that they would prioritize materials submitted by the Hong Kong side. “So T (Chan Tsz-wah) thought my lobbying was particularly effective.”

Andy Li also mentioned that besides visiting the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, he completed a trip to France. Judge Alex Lee Wan-tang asked if the French trip was related to lobbying, and Andy Li said it was. Judge Lee asked him not to mention the French trip for now, and Li said his work gradually shifted from global newspaper ads to international lobbying.

10:05 Li clarifies the timeline of knowing Mark Simon

On Wednesday (March 20), Andy Li claimed that he met with US Senator Rick Scott in September 2019, with Mark Simon present, knowing then that he was associated with Chan Tsz-wah, and later learned through newspapers or other channels that Mark Simon was Jimmy Lai’s “right-hand man.”

On Thursday (March 21), as soon as the court opened, Andy Li said he had “muddled” the timeline of knowing Mark Simon on Wednesday and proactively clarified the information. Li said he saw Mark Simon’s name for the first time in an email forwarded by Chan Tsz-wah to him on September 17 regarding the third crowdfunding campaign seeking someone to lend an account for receiving funds, but he didn’t pay attention to it. “Whether T (Chan Tsz-wah) was looking for Mark Simon or someone to collect the money, it didn’t matter, so I didn’t remember the name after reading the email.”

On September 29, in response to US Senator Rick Scott’s visit to Hong Kong, Chan Tsz-wah created the “Coffee on Sunday” group, “and then T added Mark Simon to WhatsApp, and we got to know each other there.” When they met Rick Scott, “apart from the introductions at the entrance, we went straight to Rick Scott’s table,” and they discussed with Rick Scott the whole time without chatting with Mark Simon.

10:02 Court in session

The Witness

Stand up for Jimmy Lai

In a democracy, every voice matters. Click below to add your voice and share this message.