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Day 54: March 28, 2024

The Witness: Live Update|Jimmy Lai’s Trial Day 54: Andy Li Sent Message to Luke de Pulford: Establishing Hong Kong is the Primary Goal, “Taking Down the CCP” is Secondary

Next Digital founder Jimmy Lai and three related companies of Apple Daily are charged with “conspiring to collude with foreign forces” among other crimes. The case continued its 54th day of hearing on Thursday (28th) at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts (acting as the High Court). The fourth accomplice witness, Andy Li, one of the “12 Hong Kong people,” testified for the eleventh day, continuing to be questioned by the prosecution.

The prosecution displayed communication between Li and Luke de Pulford, a member of the UK Conservative Party’s Human Rights Committee, from late June 2020, before the National Security Law (NSL) took effect. The communication showed that de Pulford had mentioned the need to adjust strategy, such as using “events that will happen in Hong Kong in the next six months” to “take down the CCP,” and Hong Kong might be implicated as a result. Li responded that “we are happy to play this role.” He agreed, under the judge’s questioning, that he hoped foreign governments would take more action than just “condemnatory statements.”

He also testified that at the time, his goals did not align with de Pulford’s stance. De Pulford believed that changes should start in China, while Li thought that the primary goal was to establish Hong Kong, not to promote democratic reforms at the Beijing level.

15:29 Court adjourned

The case will resume on April 8.

15:12 Luke de Pulford sends a message about Canada suspending the extradition arrangement

Meanwhile, members of IPAC from various countries have opened group meetings to discuss whether to review the extradition arrangement with Hong Kong. Li also attended the meeting, and the parliamentarians followed up individually afterward. The message mentioned that participants included the UK, Australia, Canada, and Germany, with Li saying, “I don’t remember who attended, but this should be correct.”

Luke de Pulford also sent Li an IPAC Twitter post, mentioning that the Canadian IPAC co-chair, MP Garnett Genuis, and former Canadian Minister of Justice and Attorney General Irwin Cotler unanimously agreed to suspend the extradition arrangement with Canada, describing it as “good news from Canada today.”

14:58 After the National Security Law, Li proposed lobbying countries to cancel judicial cooperation agreements with Hong Kong

The prosecution further questioned the operation of IPAC after the National Security Law came into effect. Li mentioned in a message, “I have taken down Joey Siu as an advisor,” which meant removing Joey Siu’s position information from the website, “just in case she might have any reason to still want to be involved with IPAC after the NSL.”

Li also mentioned in a message, “Is it a good idea to lobby for governments to cancel their mutual legal assistance or fugitive surrender arrangements with Hong Kong?” 

When asked why he made such a suggestion, Li said, “Because after the NSL, Hong Kong now has political crimes,” and countries would revise the content of the mutual legal assistance agreements or fugitive surrender arrangements based on political crimes or reconsider whether to continue signing the agreements. “I suggested to Luke to explore this area because Luke’s IPAC includes parliamentarians from different jurisdictions,” hoping to inform IPAC members of this proposal.

Li also mentioned in a message, “Are you planning to coordinate through your political contacts or through IPAC / similar? Or should I send this off to our country teams to try it from that angle?”

When asked what “country teams” meant, Li said they refer to “Hong Kong organizations or people who care about Hong Kong in various countries, regardless of whether they are related to SWHK. It could also be phrased as ‘our connection in different countries’.”

14:41 Messages show IPAC UK members sent a letter to Dominic Raab urging consideration of sanctions

The prosecution continues to show messages from a TG group discussing IPAC matters, involving de Pulford, Andy Li, and “Lam Chau” Finn Lau. On July 30, 2020, de Pulford shared a Twitter link from Iain Duncan Smith, former leader of the Conservative Party, in the group and said, “Pls share.”

The content mentioned that IPAC UK members had written to then Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, stating, “about the disgraceful obstruction of the democratic process in Hong Kong” and that it was time to move beyond ‘lifeboat’ policies to sanctions.

Li stated in court that he didn’t remember if he had shared it and mentioned, “This is the first time I’m reading (the content of the letter), it seems to be a letter coordinated by MP Iain Duncan Smith and IPAC for some reason.”

14:38 Judge Esther Toh says she was injured by scissors and needs to go to the hospital in the afternoon

As the court session began, Judge Esther Toh mentioned she had an accident and cut herself with scissors, causing bleeding. She said that the court would adjourn around 3:30 PM for her to go to the emergency room for treatment.

12:42 Lunch break

12:09 The court shows the list of signatories to the declaration against the National Security Law; Li confirms the Cantonese version was written by him

The prosecution presented “Chinese national security law in Hong Kong: A declaration of international commitment to Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms,” calling for the implementation of Magnitsky sanctions against Chinese and Hong Kong officials and organizations involved in human rights violations.

The declaration lists signatories, such as former Hong Kong Legislative Council member Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Benedict Rogers, the founder of the UK-based human rights organization “Hong Kong Watch.” The prosecution asked if Rogers is a member of IPAC. Li says he seems to be an “advisor” and confirmed this after reviewing the IPAC webpage in court. Li added, “This anti-NSL declaration is unrelated to IPAC; he didn’t sign in his capacity as an IPAC member.”

The prosecution asked if de Pulford didn’t sign the declaration. Li agreeed that de Pulford didn’t sign and doesn’t know the reason. The declaration also shows that signatories or organizations come from Canada, Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines, among others.

The prosecution presented the declaration in Chinese, English, and German versions. Li corrects, “This version is not called Chinese; it’s called Hong Kong language.” Judge Alex Lee asked if it’s written in Cantonese (punti). Li confirmed. The prosecution asked why these three languages were chosen. Li said, “Just so, nothing special.” He added that the English version is the original, the Hong Kong version was written by him, and the German version was written by “someone who knew German at the time.” He mentioned that the first two were published on the “Anti NSL” website before the National Security Law took effect, and he doesn’t remember the situation with the latter.

Li also confirmed that he continued to update the list of signatories from late June to early July.

11:23 Short break

11:16 Li confirms organizing an international joint statement before the implementation of the National Security Law

The prosecution continued to show messages between the two, mentioning that on June 29, 2020, the day before the National Security Law took effect, Li sent de Pulford a “Chinese national security law in Hong Kong: A declaration of international commitment to Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms.”

Li mentioned the hope of finding legislators, experts, activists, and others to co-sign and listed 21 signatories, such as the then-Hong Kong district councilors and the then-Japanese legislator Shiori Yamao, and Akihisa Nagashima. Li said he hoped de Pulford would review the declaration, and under team consensus, the statement would not be posted on the SWHK website, but he didn’t remember why, “I can put it elsewhere.”

The prosecution asked how Li obtained the signatures. Li said for the Hong Kong district councilors, it was through “person-to-person” contact, and for the Japanese side, it was through Yamao or the Japanese Hong Konger organization. Li then sent de Pulford another press release, “Hong Kong’s elected district councilors and legislators from various countries co-sign against the Hong Kong version of the National Security Law and call for the international community to implement policy responses.” Li confirmed that the statement was published online before the National Security Law took effect, “Even though it was signed after the NSL took effect, I added it on.”

11:02 Li confirms agreement with “liberating Hong Kong”

The messages show that Li said, “Take down the CCP might be a means to liberate HK (the end),” and de Pulford responded, “If the end is self-government, the means is the destruction of the CCP.”

The prosecution asked, “What is the purpose of ‘taking down the CCP’?” Li said, “Liberating Hong Kong,” meaning “liberating from the hands of the CCP and being Hong Kongers again.” Judge Alex Lee Wan-tang asked, on Wednesday (27th), Li claimed that IPAC does not advocate for “Hong Kong independence,” but now he mentions “liberating Hong Kong”? Li said, “It depends on the context… in that context, I am not an advocate for Hong Kong independence, but in this context, I do not oppose this line of thought.”

De Pulford also said to Li, “I have learned a few things in politics, Andy,” “Number 1 is that you always have an enemy,” “Number 2 is that the way to beat the enemy is to divide his troops, hit him very hard, and occupy his ground.”

Li responded, “I thought this is exactly what we have been trying to do, that’s why sanctions have been on top of wishlists, especially targeted sanctions.”

The prosecution asked, “Who are the targets of the sanctions mentioned in the message?” Li said in court that they are the perpetrators who violated the human rights of Hong Kongers. The prosecution further asked, “Why did Li specifically mention ‘targeted sanctions’?” Li said, “Targeted sanctions” are aimed at specific individuals, which have less impact than sector-wide sanctions.

Li said in the message, “It is HK authority + Beijing authority as far as they control HK, if you ask about the enemy.” Judge Alex Lee Wan-tang asked, “Why do you say that?” Li said, “The political environment at that time, where Hong Kong’s freedom and democracy were suppressed, was caused by the Hong Kong regime supported by Beijing.”

10:46 Li: The primary goal is to establish Hong Kong, ‘taking down the CCP’ is secondary

The prosecution continued to display the conversation between the two, with de Pulford saying, “We actually need more of this if we are going to take down the CCP.” Li responded, “The thing is, our aim is to first establish HK, taking down the CCP might be a secondary motive but it will never be a strong motive for HKers to consider sacrificing themselves. We campaign for Hong Kong, not for some democratic changes at the Beijing level.”

Judge Alex Lee Wan-tang asked if the two were debating? Li said “Somewhat,” as he thought the movement should be centered on Hong Kong, but de Pulford felt it should start from Beijing. Judge Alex Lee Wan-tang further asked if de Pulford’s view was more far-reaching than Li’s? Li agreed. He explained that de Pulford felt changes should first be made in China, “And then the China issue can be solved, whereas I think no matter whether there are changes in China, my focus is on Hong Kong itself.”

10:25 Li agrees that he implied to Luke de Pulford that he hopes foreign governments do more than just issue condemnatory statements

De Pulford said, “Right now, the absence of a demonstration against the background of many previous demonstrations. Means that the NSL will not be as big as it should be.”

Li replied, “We even tried to use them not to persuade the HK government/Beijing government to make changes; but to persuade int’l governments to make changes; so far we haven’t seen concrete sanctions falling upon, say, Dover or other perpetrators; they still roam free and all we get are ‘condemn’ statements.”

The prosecution asked what Li’s message meant. Li explained that they were discussing whether there were still protests in Hong Kong, and he said there probably wouldn’t be large-scale protests in the short term because Hongkongers felt that protests were not practically useful. At that time, the National Security Law was expected to be legislated, and de Pulford wanted Li to estimate what would happen in Hong Kong afterward. De Pulford would then respond to the situation after the National Security Law came into effect from an international or British perspective.

Judge Alex Lee Wan-tang asked if Li’s message was meant to persuade de Pulford to do something. Li said, “I think the subtext here can be read as, ‘It would be better if you did something more than just issuing a ‘condemn’ statement.'”

Judge Esther Toh Lye-ping asked who Dover was. Li said he was a senior police officer who commanded the suppression of protests, “In the protests he suppressed, some people found some human rights violations, but I don’t remember what they were.”

10:03 Messages show Luke de Pulford suggesting finding a way to “topple the CCP,” with potential repercussions for Hong Kong

Li replies, “We are willing to play this role.”

On Wednesday (27th), the prosecution presented a WhatsApp conversation between Andy Li and Luke de Pulford, a member of the UK Conservative Party’s Human Rights Commission. On Thursday (28th), the conversation continued, focusing on the dialogue after the establishment of the “Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China” (IPAC) on June 26, 2020.

De Pulford said, “Andy, I think our strategy needs to pivot,” and “The chapter is lost.” Li responded, “As in, NSL will pass, and the contents will be palatable to the diplomatic circle?”

The prosecution asked what de Pulford meant by “strategy.” Li indicated that it was not specifically mentioned, so he asked if de Pulford was referring to the National Security Law (NSL).

De Pulford replied, “The question now is how to punish, divide and conquer. And how to use the terrible things that will happen in HK over the next six months to kill the CCP… HK will be collateral.”

Li, in response to de Pulford’s statement that “HK will be collateral,” replied, “This we know and we are happy to play this role.” The prosecution asked who “we” referred to, and Li said it meant the people of Hong Kong, with the “role” referring to “laam chau” (embracing destruction). Judge Alex Lee Wan-tang asked what “laam chau” meant, and Li described it as “something that harms everyone.”

The prosecution further asked who “everyone” was, and Li replied, “Everyone, as in my side, your side, and all other sides. Every side.” When asked what “being collateral” meant, Li explained it as part of the broader geopolitics, where Hong Kong would “suffer collateral damage.” He added that the people of Hong Kong are willing to play this role.

Judge Lee then asked, “Are you willing to pay the price?” Li agreed.

10:00 Court in session

The Witness

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