Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai charged under security law

Pro-democracy media mogul Jimmy Lai, facing charges of inciting others to participate in an unauthorised assembly commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown in Beijing earlier this June 4, arrives for a hearing at the West Kowloon court in Hong Kong on November 3, 2020. (Photo: AFP)
  • Agence France-Presse
  • December 11, 2020 5:26 AM

Hong Kong, China | Hong Kong media tycoon and Beijing critic Jimmy Lai was charged under a new national security law Friday, accused of colluding with foreign forces, the latest pro-democracy figure targeted under the legislation.

The city's new national security unit charged him "with one count of 'collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security'", police said in a statement.

Lai, 73, is the most high-profile figure charged under the sweeping law, which has targeted the city's pro-democracy movement but brought a semblance of calm to the finance hub after months of often-violent protests.

National security offences carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.

The publisher will appear in court on Saturday in relation to the national security charge, police said.

Lai is the owner of Hong Kong's best-selling Apple Daily, a popular tabloid that is unashamedly pro-democracy and fiercely critical of authorities.

Police raided the newspaper's headquarters in August and arrested a string of senior company figures, including Lai, on suspicion of "collusion with foreign forces" under the vaguely worded new law that Beijing imposed on Hong Kong.

Last week he was denied bail and remanded into custody until April after being charged with fraud, the latest in a string of prosecutions brought against high-profile democracy campaigners.

He is set to apply for bail on that charge at the High Court on Tuesday.

China's clampdown on Hong Kong has dramatically accelerated since it imposed the security law in June, with opposition politicians disqualified from the legislature and dozens of activists charged or investigated.

Lai is only the fourth person charged under the controversial legislation.

The others are a 19-year-old activist for allegedly promoting secession on social media, a man who rode his motorbike into police officers at a protest and a man who repeatedly shouted pro-democracy slogans at police.

© Agence France-Presse

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