Mike Pence: Arrest of Jimmy Lai ‘Deeply Offensive, Affront to Freedom Loving People’

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai, who founded local newspaper Apple Daily, gets into a car after being arrested by police officers at his home in Hong Kong, Monday, Aug. 10, 2020. Hong Kong police arrested Lai and raided the publisher's headquarters Monday in the highest-profile use yet of the …
AP Photo

Vice President Mike Pence came out in defense of Hong Kong media tycoon and Next Digital founder Jimmy Lai after he was arrested.

Lai, who owns and founded Apple Daily, a pro-democracy paper, was arrested in a Monday morning raid of the paper’s offices by Hong Kong police. Police searched the desks of reporters and are checking the identities of those entering the building in the Tseung Kwan O district of the city.

Pence’s remarks in defense of Lai were made in a tweet on Monday, when the Vice President called the arrest of Lai “deeply offensive.” Pence wrote:

The arrest of @JimmyLaiApple in Hong Kong is deeply offensive & an affront to freedom loving people around the world. When I met w/ Jimmy Lai @WhiteHouse, I was inspired by his stand for democracy & the rights & autonomy that were promised to the people of Hong Kong by Beijing.

“The United States will continue to stand with Jimmy Lai and all the freedom loving people of Hong Kong,” Pence added, including the hashtag #FreeJimmyLai.

According to local news site the Hong Kong Free Press, seven people were arrested in total, including Lai’s sons and top executives of the Hong Kong paper.

According to Hong Kong police, Lai was arrested for allegedly “colluding” with foreign forces.

In a 2019 meeting, Lai spoke with Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to warn American leaders of the loss of freedom in his city.

In addition to Pence’s defense, Chris Patten, Lord of Barnes and the last British governor of Hong Kong, said the arrest of Lai signaled the verge of a communist police state.

“The arrests of Jimmy Lai, his sons, and his media colleagues, and the raid by more than 100 police officers of the headquarters of his media group, are a further major attack on Hong Kong’s freedoms and way of life,” Lord Patten said in a press release, adding:

This is the most outrageous assault yet on what is left of Hong Kong’s free press. It will cause considerable anxiety to all who consider freedom of opinion and freedom of the press to be essential for Hong Kong’s survival as an international financial hub. The arrests will be regarded by a growing number of people as another large step towards turning Hong Kong into a replica of Beijing’s police state.

Lord Alton of Liverpool claimed the arrest was “straight out of the Communist Party hand-book – a favourite ploy of Mao and Stalin – designed to terrorise and engender fear.”

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