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Day 51: March 22, 2024

The Witness: Live Updates | Day 51 of Jimmy Lai’s Trial: Andy Li – Lobbying Trip to the US Included “Eye-injured Journalist” and “Sexual Assault Victim”

The founder of Next Digital, Jimmy Lai, and three related companies of Apple Daily are charged with “conspiring to collude with foreign forces” and other crimes. The case entered its 51st day of trial at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts (acting as the High Court) on Friday (March 22). The fourth accomplice witness, Andy Li, one of the “12 Hongkongers,” continued his testimony for the eighth day, mainly responding to the prosecution’s questions.

Li proactively supplemented details of his lobbying trip to the United States in December 2019 at the beginning of the session, mentioning that his companions included Sonia, Veby, and Diana, among others. He described Sonia as a victim of sexual assault, hoping that she could share her experience with US congressmen and senators during the meetings, highlighting that “there are real people with flesh and blood who are victims” in the Hong Kong protests. He further mentioned that Veby is the Indonesian “eye-injured journalist,” and Diana is a flight attendant who mainly spoke about being pressured by her airline.

The case is presided over by High Court judges designated under the National Security Law, Esther Toh Lye-ping, Susana Maria D’Almada Remedios, and Alex Lee Wan-tang. The prosecution is represented by Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Anthony Chau Tin-hang, Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Ivan Cheung Cheuk-kan, and Senior Public Prosecutor Crystal Chan Wing-sum. Jimmy Lai is represented by Senior Counsel Robert Pang Yiu-hung, barrister Steven Kwan, and Marc Corlett, a New Zealand Queen’s Counsel with the right to practice in Hong Kong.

16:27 Court adjourned.
15:20 Li Discusses International Lobbying Efforts in Japan

The prosecution asked about Li’s international lobbying activities in Japan. Li recalled that around the time of the 2019 election observation mission, Japanese Member of Parliament Takashi Takai and his wife visited Hong Kong. Li met with them in Hong Kong and discussed the situation of democracy and freedom in Hong Kong at the time, as well as the conditions of the protests. This meeting also occurred after the incident at the No. 2 Bridge at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where Li took them to visit the site.

The prosecution further asked if Li had communicated with them afterward. Li confirmed that he had, including sending an email to thank them for their visit. In 2020, a member of a Hong Kong organization in Japan, Zhang Yicheng (張亦澄), who was familiar with the law, drafted a democratic bill. Li then wrote an email forwarding the draft to Takashi Takai to ask for his opinion.

Li added that the draft was about human rights issues in Hong Kong or possibly “expanding to global human rights violations,” but Li said he had not read the draft.

Judge Alex Lee Wan-tang asked what the purpose was when Li provided the draft. Li explained that the main goal was to see if the other party would consider “adopting this proposal” and to introduce the draft’s creators to the parliamentarian for follow-up. Judge Lee questioned how Li could introduce the draft to the parliamentarian without having read it. Li explained that he trusted Zhang Yicheng, who created the draft, and also wanted to introduce him to the parliamentarian for further follow-up.

The prosecution then quoted an email reply from Takashi Takai, which mentioned communicating with Shiori Yamao. Li explained that since both of them were concerned about human rights, they would discuss it with each other. The prosecution quoted an email from Li to Takashi Takai, mentioning that Takashi Takai had met with Hong Kong district councilor “Timothy Lee Hin-long.” The court was then shown photos of the meeting, including a group photo with Timothy Lee Hin-long and Takashi Takai, and a photo of Li with Takashi Takai. The prosecution further asked if Li had continued to follow up afterward. Li mentioned that he had emailed Takashi Takai from February to May 2020, asking if he would support the related bill.

Li continued to say that in December 2019, he visited Japan to meet with Takashi Takai and Shiori Yamao, also bringing along a tear gas canister head to Japan, confirming that it was part of his international lobbying work. Li also mentioned that besides Chan Tsz-wah, he was in contact with Hong Kong organizations in Japan, including “SWHK@JPN,” but reiterated that “this has nothing to do with the ‘SWHK’ we have been talking about, and also the later ‘Hong Kong’s Dawn.'(香港の夜明)” When Li discussed this trip to Japan with Chan Tsz-wah, he also mentioned meeting with Japanese Communist Party members Satoshi Inoue and Taku Yamazoe. Chan Tsz-wah responded with “good luck” and other encouraging words.

The prosecution further asked if the Hong Kong organizations in Japan mentioned by Li were related to the parliamentary lobbying activities. Li stated that there were other people in Japan concerned about Hong Kong issues who arranged for him to meet with Satoshi Inoue and Taku Yamazoe, but these organizations mainly did “ground work” such as rallies, so “neither of these two organizations were particularly involved in lobbying activities.”

15:10 Li Confirms the Team’s Focus on International Lobbying

Li previously stated that he had held online meetings with Chan and “Lam Chau.” He added that in the meeting, it was mentioned that “Lam Chau” would continue to act as a spiritual leader or “influencer,” while “I would continue with international lobbying, and Chan (Tsz-wah) would carry out local ground activities in Hong Kong,” with the three of them continuing to push for freedom and democracy in Hong Kong. Li further explained that the “ground activities” carried out by Chan’s side included participating in rallies for Hong Kong’s freedom and democracy.

Li said that “Lam Chau” was considered a “spiritual leader” because “he already had a lot of influence on ‘LIHKG’ (an online forum), so what he said or called for on ‘LIHKG’ had a strong response.” Chan tasked Li to continue with international lobbying work, and Li stated, “Actually, it was no different from what I was already doing. For me, it was as if it hadn’t been said, and indeed, I was doing international lobbying.”

Judge Alex Lee Wan-tang asked if his trips to the United States, the election observation mission, and the trip to Geneva were considered international lobbying. Li believed that the trips to the United States and Geneva were international lobbying, but the election observation mission was more marginal. Li confirmed that he continued with international lobbying work after the online meeting, being “one of the Hong Kongers doing international lobbying on the international stage.”

15:00 Li: Anson Chan Asks About “End Game” and “Road Map”

Regarding Li’s statement about meeting with Anson Chan again in early 2020, Li added that it was Anson Chan who invited both him and Chan Tsz-wah to her office for the meeting. The meeting was mainly led by Anson Chan asking him and Chan, “As activists of this generation, what is our ultimate goal and how do we plan to achieve it?” However, at that time, both Li and Chan “couldn’t provide concrete answers… because Anson Chan was asking about the current situation, and by then, there had already been many protests, activities, and gatherings. So, if we had an end game, what would be the way to achieve it in the future?”

Li explained that neither he nor Chan had an “end game” or a “concrete road map for what to do next. I would summarize the meeting as inconclusive.” The prosecution asked why Anson Chan would invite him and Chan to discuss issues related to the protests. Li said that Anson Chan and Chan Tsz-wah already knew each other, but he was not sure why he was personally invited.

14:36 Li Mentioned Meeting Anson Chan Three Times

The prosecution continued to display the “Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong” website, where one of the pages displayed the text “About Fight for freedom. Stand with Hong Kong team”. Judge Esther Toh Lye-ping inquired whether the Chinese translation of “SWHK” is “攬炒團隊” (Lam Chau team). Li explained that not all members of “SWHK” agree that its Chinese name is “攬炒團隊” (Lam Chau team).

Regarding Li’s earlier statement that the identities of “G Lam” and “SWHK” were not yet defined in December 2019, the prosecution asked when these identities were defined. Li mentioned that it is difficult to provide an exact date, but eventually, everyone gradually stopped using the name “G Lam” and mainly recognized the name “SWHK” until his arrest. Li continued, stating that “SWHK” does not have a constitution or membership system, and everyone continued to organize activities under the name “SWHK”.

Li previously testified that during the visit of the election observation group in November 2019, he met with Martin Lee, the founding chairman of the Democratic Party, former Chief Secretary for Administration Anson Chan, and Lord David Alton of the UK House of Lords, among others. The prosecution further asked if Li had met with Anson Chan again besides that occasion. Li confirmed that he had met with her two more times around the end of 2019 to early 2020.

Li recalled one of the meetings was with the then British Consul-General in Hong Kong, Andrew Heyn. Besides Anson Chan, Martin Lee, Dennis Kwok, and Charles Mok were also present, and Li was invited by Heyn. Li mentioned that among the participants of this meeting, Martin Lee and Anson Chan were from the older generation of democrats, while Dennis Kwok and Charles Mok were from the middle generation, and he himself was from the younger generation. Therefore, the Consul-General wanted to hear different generations’ views on democracy in Hong Kong. The prosecution asked what was discussed in the meeting. Li said that they talked about their views on democracy in Hong Kong, and the “joint declaration” was mentioned during the meeting. Li mentioned that he had discussed this meeting with Chan Tsz-wah, who encouraged him to “go meet, keep it up, and network a bit”.

12:39 Lunch break

12:00 Li Confirms “Sanction List” Includes Over 141 People
Claims He Has No Authority to Delete as Not a Facebook Admin

The prosecution continued quoting that the related sanction list involves 141 people and the entire police force, with level one including senior government officials and level two involving senior police officers, Executive Council and Legislative Council members, and Election Commission staff, etc. Under questioning, Li confirmed that the list includes former Chief Executive Carrie Lam, foreign police officer Rupert Dover, “not sure if Andy Tsang Wai-hung was the biggest police officer, and Ronny Tong not sure if he is from the Legislative Council or the Executive Council”.

The prosecution continued asking if Li had attempted to delete the related report on Facebook. Li stated that he is not a Facebook administrator and “has no ability to remove” it. Judge Esther Toh Lye-ping asked who the Facebook administrators are. Li mentioned that it includes other members of the “Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong” team.

The prosecution continued to display the “Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong” webpage, including the sanction list page. Li confirmed that he is one of the webpage administrators. The prosecution then asked if he had tried to delete the related report. Li said no and, to his knowledge, no one else had attempted to remove it either.

The prosecution displayed documents seized from Li’s residence, listing “Version 2 (Second Edition)” marked “For United States” and confidential. Li recalled that this report should be the physical version printed in the United States.

The prosecution showed another version of the sanction target report obtained from Li’s phone. Li asked, “was it attached to TG, downloaded from a message, or from WhatsApp, email, etc.?” The prosecution responded that it was not an attachment from a message, but just extracted from his phone. Li stated that he does not remember where he downloaded it or the intention behind the download.

11:45 Li Confirms “Sanction Report” Publicly Released in December 2019

The prosecution displayed another Telegram message between Li and Samuel Chu from December 2019, showing Li stating “The sanction list is now public, at least the version here,” with a link to Facebook attached. Li explained that since he had previously informed Chu that the list should be kept confidential, he later notified him that it “no longer needs to be confidential”.

The prosecution showed a Facebook post by the “Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong” team from December 20, 2019, which Li confirmed was the link he sent on Telegram. The post mentioned, “After months of painstaking research and effort, Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong and Hong Kong IAD jointly announce the release of a sanction report entitled ‘Profiles of Hong Kong Repression: Perpetrators of Human Rights and Democracy Abuse.'”

The post also stated, “In addition, this document is being sent to organizations and parliamentarians of multiple countries for further action. It is our hope that this Report will make it easier for countries to pinpoint suitable individuals for sanctions, people who have sold out Hongkongers’ basic human rights for personal gain.”

The prosecution continued asking if the report was eventually sent to organizations and parliamentarians of multiple countries. Li stated that for the United States, the related report was given to Samuel Chu. For the UK, the “Lam Chau” team was responsible for contacting members of Parliament, but he was “not clear where that report ended up or where it was circulated.” As for other countries, he was not sure. Li mentioned that he had not read the report in detail.

11:20 Li Provides Details on Companions During US Trip

As soon as the court session began, Andy Li immediately supplemented information, mentioning that during his trip to the US, theoretical astrophysicist Shirley Ho, who accompanied him, had printed a physical copy of the sanction targets report on a USB. However, at that time, Samuel Chu suggested not to directly hand over the report to US congress members. Instead, the report should be given to Chu first, so he could communicate with the staff of the congress members later. Li is not certain whether the physical report was eventually given to Samuel (Chu) or someone else. Li mentioned that Shirley Ho is one of the members of the “Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong” team in the US. Li also listed other companions who traveled to the US with him, including Sonia, Veby, and Diana, among others.

Li stated that Sonia had been sexually assaulted. The prosecution asked why she was involved in the trip. Li explained that when meeting with congress members and senators, “we went to present that in these demonstrations and protests in Hong Kong, there are real people who are victims, so she told her story of being sexually assaulted.”

Li continued, stating that Veby is the Indonesian “eye-injured journalist”; Diana is a flight attendant, but he is not certain if she is from Cathay Pacific. She mainly talked about being pressured by the company, “saying not to participate in those activities supporting Hong Kong’s democracy… airlines, and companies that exert pressure, so I assume it’s Cathay, but I’m not certain.”

11:15 Court session begins.

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