Crime & Justice

Hong Kong High Court grants bail to media tycoon Jimmy Lai

Beijing, Dec 23 (efe-epa).- The Hong Kong High Court on Wednesday granted bail to media tycoon Jimmy Lai, a well-known critic of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Hong Kong television broadcaster RTHK reported.

The court accepted Lai’s release on a bond of HK$10 million ($1.3 million) and a number of conditions, such as staying at home except to show up at the police station three times a week or to attend his trial, which in a way amounts to house arrest.

Moreover, the 73-year-old Lai – owner of the Next Digital media group and pro-democracy activist – was ordered to surrender his passport, and told that he cannot use social media, give interviews, make public statements, meet overseas officials or “collude with foreign forces,” according to RTHK.

Lai is the only one among the four charged under Hong Kong’s contentious national security law to have been granted bail.

This security law, which has been in force since Jun. 30, provides for sentences of up to life imprisonment for charges such as collusion with foreign forces or secession.

On Dec. 12, the courts had denied Lai bail in the case, in which he is accused of violating the new security law by allegedly “colluding with foreign forces”.

For the hearing, Lai – who was arrested on Dec. 3 – was transferred to the court in chains amid strong security .

According to the accusation against Lai, between Jul. 1 and Dec. 1, the media tycoon urged a foreign country or institution to impose sanctions, blockades, or conduct other hostile activities against the Hong Kong authorities.

Earlier on Dec. 3, the Hong Kong judicial authorities had denied him bail on another case in which he is charged for fraud.

The next hearing is on Apr. 16, when Lai will be tried for both the charges.

Since the imposition of the national security law, there have been numerous police raids and arrests of pro-democracy activists, some of whom have chosen to go into exile to try to avoid reprisals for activities that, under the new legislation, could constitute a crime. EFE-EPA


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