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Prominent activist and publisher Jimmy Lai on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to three charges of sedition and collusion with foreign countries in a landmark national security trial in Hong Kong.

Lai was arrested during a crackdown on dissidents following huge pro-democracy protests in 2019. He faces possible life imprisonment if convicted under a sweeping national security law imposed by Beijing. The trial is expected to last about 80 days without a jury.

The 76-year-old media tycoon who founded the now-defunct Apple Daily newspaper faces one count of conspiring to print seditious publications to incite hatred against the Chinese and Hong Kong governments, as well as two counts of collusion with foreign countries to call for sanctions and other hostile actions against China and Hong Kong.

Flanked by three prison officers, Lai formally pleaded not guilty to the charges read to him, shortly after the court rejected a last-ditch attempt by his counsel to throw out a sedition charge.

Prosecutor Anthony Chau in his opening statements described Lai as a “radical political figure” and the “mastermind” behind a conspiracy. Chau also said that Lai had used his media platform to advance his political agenda.

Clips of interviews that Lai gave to foreign media as well as speeches at events between 2019 and 2020 were also played in court. In the video, Lai called for support from foreign governments and urged U.S. officials as well as then-President Donald Trump to impose “draconian” measures on China and Chinese officials in retaliation for imposing the national security law and restricting freedoms in Hong Kong.

His prosecution has drawn criticism from the United States and the United Kingdom. Beijing has called those comments irresponsible, saying they went against international law and the basic norms of international relations.

The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, or IPAC, an international political group that’s critical of China’s human rights record and foreign policy, said Lai’s trial “fabricated” evidence that the media mogul was involved in its work.



Pierce Brosnan, whose fictitious movie character James Bond has been in hot water plenty of times, is now facing heat in real life, charged with stepping out of bounds in a thermal area during a recent visit to Yellowstone National Park.

Brosnan walked in an off-limits area at Mammoth Terraces, in the northern part of Yellowstone near the Wyoming-Montana line, on Nov. 1, according to two federal citations issued Tuesday.

Brosnan, 70, is scheduled for a mandatory court appearance on Jan. 23 in the courtroom of the world’s oldest national park. The Associated Press sent a request for comment to his Instagram account Thursday, and email messages to his agent and attorney.

Yellowstone officials declined to comment. Brosnan was in the park on a personal visit and not for film work, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Wyoming said.

Mammoth Terraces is a scenic spot of mineral-encrusted hot springs bubbling from a hillside. They’re just some of the park’s hundreds of thermal features, which range from spouting geysers to gurgling mud pots, with water at or near the boiling point.

Going out-of-bounds in such areas can be dangerous: Some of the millions of people who visit Yellowstone each year get badly burned by ignoring warnings not to stray off the trail.

Getting caught can bring legal peril too, with jail time, hefty fines and bans from the park handed down to trespassers regularly.

In addition to his four James Bond films, Brosnan starred in the 1980s TV series “Remington Steele” and is known for starring roles in the films “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “The Thomas Crown Affair.”



For holding a sign outside a courthouse reminding jurors of their right to acquit defendants, a retiree faces up to two years in prison. For hanging a banner reading “Just Stop Oil” off a bridge, an engineer got a three-year prison sentence. Just for walking slowly down the street, scores of people have been arrested.

They are among hundreds of environmental activists arrested for peaceful demonstrations in the U.K., where tough new laws restrict the right to protest.

The Conservative government says the laws prevent extremist activists from hurting the economy and disrupting daily life. Critics say civil rights are being eroded without enough scrutiny from lawmakers or protection by the courts. They say the sweeping arrests of peaceful demonstrators, along with government officials labeling environmental activists extremists, mark a worrying departure for a liberal democracy.

“Legitimate protest is part of what makes any country a safe and civilized place to live,” said Jonathon Porritt, an ecologist and former director of Friends of the Earth, who joined a vigil outside London’s Central Criminal Court to protest the treatment of demonstrators.

“The government has made its intent very clear, which is basically to suppress what is legitimate, lawful protest and to use every conceivable mechanism at their disposal to do that.”

Britain is one of the world’s oldest democracies, home of the Magna Carta, a centuries-old Parliament and an independent judiciary. That democratic system is underpinned by an “unwritten constitution” — a set of laws, rules, conventions and judicial decisions accumulated over hundreds of years.

The effect of that patchwork is “we rely on self-restraint by governments,” said Andrew Blick, author of “Democratic Turbulence in the United Kingdom” and a political scientist at King’s College London. “You hope the people in power are going to behave themselves.”

But what if they don’t? During three turbulent and scandal-tarnished years in office, Boris Johnson pushed prime ministerial power to the limits. More recently, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has asked Parliament to overrule the U.K. Supreme Court, which blocked a plan to send asylum-seekers to Rwanda.

Such actions have piled pressure on Britain’s democratic foundations. Critics say cracks have appeared.

As former Conservative justice minister David Lidington put it: “The ‘good chap’ theory of checks and balances has now been tested to destruction.”

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