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Washington, D.C. — Representatives Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), Lead Republican and Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs today issued the following statement about the Hong Kong authorities’ arrests of newspaper founder Jimmy Lai and former Legislative Council members Lee Cheuk-yan and Yeung Sum.

“We are deeply concerned by the politically motivated arrests of prominent Hong Kong citizens Jimmy Lai, Lee Cheuk-yan, and Yeung Sum last week.  

“While the Hong Kong authorities claim that their charges of illegal assembly and intimidation are based on prior events, it is notable that just last week, Jimmy Lai published an op-ed pointing out that Beijing’s war on free speech has exacerbated the Coronavirus epidemic. 

“If the Chinese authorities believe that attention has shifted away from Hong Kong – that they now have an opportunity to brazenly violate their own laws without attracting attention from the international community – they are sorely mistaken.  The politically-motivated use of Hong Kong’s legal system further tarnishes Hong Kong’s reputation for strong rule of law and autonomy, particularly as indiscriminate violence against peaceful protestors continues with impunity.

“These individuals are the latest victims of an ongoing campaign of intimidation carried out against Hong Kongers who are exercising their rights to free assembly and free speech.  We urge the Hong Kong Government to immediately release all who have been detained on politically motivated charges. As Congressional leaders involved in passing the historic Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, we will continue to scrutinize violations of Hong Kong’s autonomy, including through forthcoming reports pursuant to that legislation.”


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