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Day 55: April 08, 2024

The Witness: Live Update | 55th Day of Jimmy Lai’s Trial: Andy Li Confirms Attendance at Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China Meeting

Jimmy Lai, the founder of Next Digital, and three related companies of Apple Daily are charged with “conspiracy to collude with foreign forces” and other crimes. The case resumed its 55th day of hearing at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts (acting as the High Court) on Monday (8th), with the fourth accomplice witness Andy Li testifying for the 12th day. Li confirmed in court that he attended a meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) in July 2020.

Last week, the court adjourned, and on the 28th of last month, the prosecution presented communications between Li and Luke de Pulford, a member of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission in the UK, from June 2020 before the National Security Law came into effect. De Pulford mentioned the need to find a way to use Hong Kong to “take down the CCP,” and that “Hong Kong will be implicated.” Li replied that Hong Kong people are willing to play this role. He added in court that the “role” refers to “Lam Chau,” and confirmed that he is willing to pay the price. The conversation also showed that he and de Pulford argued over how to resolve the Hong Kong issue, with Li believing that the “primary goal is to establish Hong Kong,” and “taking down the CCP” is secondary, or just a means to “liberate Hong Kong.”

The case is presided over by Judges Esther Toh Lye-ping, Susana Maria D’Almada Remedios, and Alex Lee Wan-tang, designated under the National Security Law. 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 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 Hong Kong practice qualifications.

16:16 Court adjourns

15:52 Messages show Andy Li and Chan Tsz-wah discussing whether they need to “surface”

The prosecution presented a Signal message between Li and Chan Tsz-wah from July 23, 2020. Chan Tsz-wah said, “How much is brother Mark’s payment?” “Have you arranged everything in Hong Kong?” “If you go ahead, everyone around you will be targeted.” Li replied, “I’ve taken care of the family members I needed to.”

The prosecution asked what “How much is brother Mark’s payment?” meant. Li said “Mark” refers to Mark Simon. For the third crowdfunding campaign of “G20 x Lam Chau,” the funds were transferred from the crowdfunding platform to Mark Simon’s account and then to the trust fund “The Project Hong Kong Trust” account. Therefore, he discussed the funds with Chan.

The prosecution asked what “Have you arranged everything in Hong Kong?” meant. Li explained, “If we’re going to proceed, we need to arrange everything in Hong Kong. He (Chan Tsz-wah) said if we go ahead, everyone around him will be targeted, including himself. If we’re going to proceed, we need to consider these concerns. At least take care of the family members that need to be taken care of. I told T (Chan Tsz-wah) that my family doesn’t need to worry, and if we get punished, we get punished. I told T that it’s not primarily about whether I proceed or not.”

The prosecution asked, “Proceed with what?” Li said, “Surfacing, being a public figure.” Judge Alex Lee Wan-tang asked what that meant. Li explained, “It contrasts because many activists are underground, meaning anonymous.”

15:34 Meeting records show Nathan Law and Ray Wong attended

The prosecution presented emails between Shiori Yamao and Bill Browder, showing they arranged a Zoom meeting on August 12, 2020. Li emailed both, uncertain if Zoom was a secure option for the meeting and suggested using Jitsi. The prosecution asked if the meeting participants included Li, Yamao, and Bill Browder. Li said, “Sorry, I was arrested on August 12,” but the original meeting participants included him.

The prosecution also presented the meeting records of IPAC on August 3, 2020. In addition to IPAC members from various countries, participants included Li, Nathan Law, and Ray Wong. Li explained, “First, Ray Wong and Nathan Law talked about the situation in Hong Kong after the NSL (National Security Law) was implemented, then the co-chairs asked them questions, and then we discussed the sub-bullet points.”

15:26 Li confirms he had a video conference with de Pulford and Browder

The prosecution presented a Signal group called “Magnitsky Japan,” created by de Pulford on August 4, 2020, with members including de Pulford, Andy Li, and a phone number starting with “+44.” The prosecution asked if the phone number starting with “+44” was Bill Browder’s phone number. Li said the number was added by de Pulford, “I presume it’s Bill.” Judge Alex Lee Wan-tang asked if, in other words, Li didn’t know if the phone number was Bill Browder’s. Li agreed.

The prosecution showed a message sent by Li in the “Magnitsky Japan” group, “Bill/Luke: Thank you for the call. We will set up an in-person meeting with Rep Yamao to update her on the support that you could offer her. I expect that we would have to work out a strategy with her and other legislators regarding the strategy, tone, and timing to push the Act.

A bit of update on the Japanese parliament. the normal full session runs from January, and there is usually a short session from September, but currently under COVID, we honestly don’t know when it would reopen.

The prosecution asked if the act mentioned in the message referred to the “Magnitsky Act.” Li said it should refer to the human rights bill proposed by Shiori Yamao personally, “Once I went to Japan to meet Yamao Shiori, and she brought out a human rights bill on her own, so Yamao herself is working on a similar bill, so it might be directly pushing Yamao Shiori’s human rights bill, or it might be modified a bit.”

The prosecution pointed out that Li said “Thank you for the call,” meaning Li, de Pulford, and Bill Browder had a conversation? Li agreed, “There was a video, I directly saw his face.”

15:02 Li confirms he helped as a volunteer for the meeting between Shiori Yamao and financier Bill Browder

Li messaged de Pulford, saying, “We help Bill set up a Japan presence, and then our Japan arm work with him to help Shiori together.”

The prosecution asked, from the message, can it be seen that de Pulford had a meeting with Bill Browder? Li said the meeting had two purposes: on one hand, de Pulford introduced Bill Browder to Shiori Yamao, and on the other hand, if Bill Browder could cooperate with Shiori Yamao, how could Bill Browder assist the other party.

De Pulford messaged Li about the meeting agenda, including an introduction to the Liberal Democratic Party, an explanation of SWHK’s work in Japan, an assessment of the progress of Magnitsky sanctions, questions from Bill Browder, and the work arrangement between SWHK and Bill Browder to promote progress in Japan.

Li explained in court that Bill Browder cooperated with Shiori Yamao, but it would be more convenient for Shiori Yamao to use Japanese, and Hong Kong people in Japan would understand Japanese politics better. “If there are volunteers in the middle to help, it would be better for Bill Browder and Yamao (Shiori Yamao).” Li added that he did not assist Shiori Yamao in the capacity of SWHK, but as a volunteer for Shiori Yamao.

14:33 Prosecution continues questioning about SWHK IPAC group

As the prosecution continued to ask questions about the SWHK IPAC TG group. Andy Li proactively added that, when he reviewed the messages in court, he saw messages related to JPAC, mentioning the purpose of JPAC’s establishment, which is to request China not to arbitrarily harm universal values and basic human rights.

The prosecution displayed a message from Luke de Pulford in the SWHK IPAC TG group on August 3, 2020: “Guys I just was emailing Bill Browder. He’s v excited about Shiori. I told him that SWHK had been crucial in helping Shiori develop her platform on HK. I also said that would likely be the case in the future. He wants to help her on the Magnitsky stuff. I offered to set up a call between SWHK JPN team (and others if you want).”

Judge Alex Lee asked, what countries are targeted by Magnitsky-style sanctions? Andy Li said that it refers to the implementation of Magnitsky-style sanctions by different jurisdictions, and when human rights violations occur, the perpetrators can be sanctioned. Judge Esther Toh asked, why did de Pulford say “SWHK has played a crucial role in helping Shiori develop her Hong Kong platform”? Li said that at that time, Hong Kong activists wanted to push for sanctions, and British financier Bill Browder also wanted to promote sanctions in various places, with the same goal.

Judge Esther Toh further asked, do the sanctions include China and Hong Kong? Li said, “It should be said that HongKongers want to apply (sanctions) to human rights violations in China, as for where Bill Browder wants to apply them, I don’t know.”

The prosecution asked, how could Bill Browder help Shiori Yamao with Magnitsky sanctions? Li quoted de Pulford’s message, saying, “he also has a huge amount of money,” meaning “if there is a need for funds, he has them.” On the other hand, since Bill Browder has already promoted Magnitsky sanctions and has contact methods for relevant political figures, “so Bill Browder can also help Yamao Shiori reach out to these politicians.”

12:45 Adjournment for lunch

12:24 Andy Li denies being a member of the Japan Parliamentary Alliance on China Policy (JPAC)

Regarding Andy Li ‘s mention of “the spokesperson for the Japanese team” in TG messages, Li stated in court that these were Japanese activists such as SWHK@JPN, Act with HK, and “Hong Kong’s Dawn” and other Japanese organizations for Hong Kong people. The prosecution asked if SWHK@JPN is part of SWHK (Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong)? Li said no, explaining that SWHK@JPN is an independent organization.

The prosecution then asked if Li was one of the members of JPAC. Li said no, stating, “I have no role in JPAC,” and that he was only a volunteer assisting former Japanese parliamentarian Shiori Yamao in establishing the organization.

The prosecution also quoted a message from de Pulford to Li stating, “You could be the unofficial regional liaison.” They asked what liaison work Li was responsible for at that time. Li indicated that he was indeed “passing messages back and forth” and also paying attention to Japanese language issues, such as whether there would be Japanese language support during meetings between Shiori Yamao and Gen Nakatani.

Li also sent a message to the SWHK IPAC TG group on July 29 stating, “(Tokyo) JPAC-Japanese arm of IPAC was officially launched on 16:00 29 Jul. NSL, Japan version of Magnitsky Act, lifeboat policies for HKers, Japan-HK relation’s are discussed.” The message also listed the conveners of JPAC.

Li confirmed in court that he wrote the message, and the list of conveners was provided by Shiori Yamao or Gen Nakatani.

12:18 Prosecution presents TG message
Andy Li mentions the establishment of the “Japan Parliamentary Alliance on China Policy” by Japanese members

The prosecution continued to present TG messages, showing Andy in the group stating that former Japanese parliamentarian Shiori Yamao and House of Representatives member Gen Nakatani formed the cross-party “Japan Parliamentary Alliance on China Policy” (JPAC) on July 19, 2020, similar to IPAC (Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China), to discuss China policy among Japanese parliamentarians concerned about China. The prosecution asked what China policy? Li said “any China policy.”

On July 22, the conversation between Li and de Pulford shows that Li mentioned JPAC will hold a press conference on July 29 to announce the organization’s establishment. The Japanese team’s spokesperson will call for the establishment of “lifeboat policies,” Magnitsky sanctions, suspension of the Japan-Hong Kong mutual legal assistance treaty, and preventing Japanese companies or organizations from providing assistance to the Hong Kong government.

The prosecution asked what is a “lifeboat policy”? Li explained it means “providing a lifeboat for Hong Kong people,” referring to situations where, after the National Security Law is passed or when facing political suppression in Hong Kong, individuals who want to leave and settle elsewhere can be facilitated by some countries implementing policies to assist these Hong Kong people, which is the lifeboat.

The prosecution followed up, asking what does “providing assistance” mean? Li said “I think at this point it wasn’t clarified clearly,” but in terms of direction, assistance refers to Japanese companies helping the Hong Kong government in political suppression. Judge Esther Toh Lye-ping asked if the Japan-Hong Kong mutual legal assistance agreement refers to an extradition agreement? Li says no, because there is no extradition agreement between Hong Kong and Japan, but there is a mutual legal assistance agreement.

12:04 Prosecution asks about SWHK IPAC TG group messages

The prosecution presented a message sent by de Pulford to the SWHK IPAC (Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong, Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China) TG group on July 19, 2020, with an IPAC Twitter link. The post retweets a report from The Sunday Times titled “TikTok shelves plan for global HQ in Britain” and praises it as “excellent reporting.” It also thanks “#IPAC co-chair @MPIainDS for tabling an amendment to the Extradition Bill last week and to @SarahChampionMP for supporting.”

The prosecution asked if the UK had already suspended its extradition agreement with Hong Kong at that time? Andy Li said he’s not sure. Li also mentioned that he did not pay attention to de Pulford’s message at that time and was seeing the aforementioned Twitter post for the first time now.

11:20 Break

10:47 Prosecution asks about Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong’s letters to three countries urging the suspension of extradition agreements with Hong Kong

The prosecution presented a statement from the Canadian Foreign Ministry dated July 3, 2020, mentioning the suspension of the Canada-Hong Kong extradition agreement in response to the implementation of the National Security Law. The prosecution also presented a TG message between Andy Li and Luke de Pulford, where de Pulford sent Li an IPAC (Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China) Twitter post. The post mentioned that Canadian IPAC Co-Chair, MP Garnett Genuis, and former Canadian Minister of Justice and Attorney General Irwin Cotler unanimously agree to suspend Canada’s extradition arrangement, describing it as “good news from Canada today.” De Pulford says, “Please tell SWHK to Rt (Re-tweet).”

The prosecution asked if Li instructed SWHK (Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong) to retweet the post. Li said he doesn’t remember. The prosecution showed that SWHK retweeted the Canadian Foreign Ministry’s statement on Twitter, saying, “Thank You #Justin Trudeau and Canadian citizens for standing with #HongKong and suspends the extradition treaty with Hong Kong.” After reading the post, Li said it seems SWHK retweeted the relevant post while he was asleep.

The prosecution presented three letters sent by SWHK to the foreign ministries of the Czech Republic, Ireland, and Portugal, urging the suspension of their extradition agreements with Hong Kong. The prosecution asked how Li obtained the letters. Li said, “I don’t remember who gave me the reference, either from SWHK or from Luke (de Pulford).” The prosecution asked why the reference was needed. Li explained that since SWHK knew he was involved in discussing extradition agreements or lobbying international parliamentarians, they gave him the letters as templates.

The prosecution asked if the Czech Republic, Ireland, and Portugal are IPAC members. Li said Ireland and Portugal are not, and he didn’t remember if the Czech Republic was one of the initial members, but he knew that Pavel Fischer is the Czech IPAC Co-Chair later on. The prosecution followed up, asking if Li prepared separate letters for these countries because Ireland and Portugal are not IPAC members. Li answered he doesn’t know, as the three letters were written by other SWHK members, someone else would follow up, and he didn’t need to handle it.

10:19 Prosecution presents the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China meeting record
The record shows discussions on not extraditing anyone to Hong Kong or China

The meeting record of the “Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China” (IPAC) presented by the prosecution shows attendees including Canadian IPAC Co-Chair, MP Garnett Genuis, former Canadian Minister of Justice and Attorney General Irwin Cotler, Australian IPAC Co-Chair Kimberley Kitching, etc. The record also shows that the meeting’s objective was “Request your government for concrete in writing publicly that no one shall be extradited to Hong Kong or China regardless of nationality,” and “Make an assurance that no extradition will be carried out as stated in (1) under the law by way of reviewing the current law and termination of the extradition agreement.”

The prosecution asked if the above were the meeting’s objectives? Li responded, “It can be understood that way.” He explained that if some countries are unable to amend their extradition laws, then the aim would be to push those countries to publicly declare their non-support for the extradition laws, “in a way to get some assurance.” He continued, directly changing the laws or canceling the extradition laws would be more effective than a government’s public declaration, but the former is harder to implement, and the government’s public declaration is “easier to handle.”

The prosecution further asked if the above objectives were a consensus of the meeting? Li answered, “It should be said that this meeting did not reach a consensus,” as the meeting record shows that it was just a discussion on extradition laws by MPs from different countries, “listing different MPs’ speeches and what they said.” He also described the meeting as “different MPs throwing out different ideas,” or concerns of their respective countries, plus it was IPAC’s first meeting, so it did not reach a consensus level.

10:05 Andy Li confirms attendance at the “Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China” meeting

Judge Esther Toh Lye-ping mentioned in the last hearing that she was injured using scissors, and stated at the opening of the court on Monday that she had been stitched up. Prosecutor Anthony Chau Tin-hang also revealed that the main questioning of Andy Li is expected to be completed in 1 to 2 days.

The prosecution previously mentioned that members of the “Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China” (IPAC) held a subcommittee meeting on July 3, 2020, to discuss whether to review the extradition agreements with Hong Kong.

On Monday, the prosecution showed a TG conversation between Li and Luke de Pulford, a member of the UK Conservative Party’s Human Rights Committee and a co-founder of IPAC. De Pulford sent Li an IPAC Twitter link on July 4, mentioning “Last night 16 #IPAC Co-Chairs met.” Li confirmed in court that he was an attendee at the IPAC meeting.

TG messages also showed that Li told de Pulford the night before the meeting, “Shiori said it’s hard for her to join now, and asks for a summary afterwards, should I join and take notes for her? Or you can send a debriefing for her?” De Pulford replied “OK.”

The prosecution asked if Li had written meeting notes for Shiori Yamao, a Japanese member of parliament at the time. Li said he didn’t remember writing meeting notes himself, as “Sam” or “Andrew” might have helped record the content.

The prosecution presented a Japanese meeting minute retrieved from Li’s computer, with Iain Duncan Smith, former leader of the Conservative Party, as the chair and attendees including the “IPAC Office.” The prosecution asked who represented the “IPAC Office”? Li said that de Pulford was present at the time, and “Sam” or “Andrew” helped record the content, and Li himself was not representing IPAC.

10:04 Court in session

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