Hong Kong media tycoon, Jimmy Lai
Photo credit: Associated Press

U.S. Defence Secretary Michael Pompeo has slammed China for charging Hong Kong media mogul, Jimmy Lai, under the draconian National Security Law and demanded that charges must be dropped.

Pompeo further accused the Chinese Communist Party of its authoritarian rule and said that China was making a mockery of justice in the region.

“Hong Kong’s National Security Law makes a mockery of justice. @JimmyLaiApple’s only “crime” is speaking the truth about the Chinese Communist Party’s authoritarianism and fear of freedom.

“Charges should be dropped and he should be released immediately,” Pompeo tweeted.

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Jimmy is set to appear in West Kowloon Court on Saturday after being charged with colluding with foreign powers under the Beijing-imposed national security law.

The offence carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, the South China Morning Post said.

Earlier, Jimmy, the founder of the Apple Daily newspaper was reported to have been charged with fraud and then denied bail.

In August 2020, the tycoon was arrested under the new National Security Law.

The charge stems from comments Jimmy purportedly made on Twitter and in an interview asking foreign countries to sanction the city.

This comes after a number of former pro-democracy lawmakers were arrested in the month of October over protests after the draconian National Security Law was imposed on the city by Beijing.

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The law criminalises secession, subversion, and collusion with foreign forces and carries with it strict prison terms.

It came into effect from July 1.