Conflicts & War

Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy back in jail again

Hong Kong, Dec 31 (efe-epa).- Hong Kong’s top court on Thursday remanded pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai in custody again after allowing prosecutors to appeal against his bail in a national security law case.

The Court of Final Appeal granted an interim order to detain the 73-year-old founder of Apple Daily until a hearing on Feb.1 next year.

Prosecutor Anthony Chau pointed out that an article under the national security law, which Lai is accused of violating, states that no bail shall be granted unless there are sufficient grounds to believe that the suspect will not commit acts endangering the national security.

The government’s lawyer argued that given Lai’s “radical ideologies” and the fact that he runs a media outlet in Hong Kong, he is likely to instruct other people to commit acts to jeopardize national security.

Lai, an outspoken critic of Beijing, was arrested on Dec.11 for allegedly colluding with foreign forces and posting messages on Twitter that endangered national security.

The media tycoon also faces a fraud charge related to a business lease.

The prosecution alleged that between July 1 and Dec.1, Lai “requested a foreign country or an institution, organization or individual” outside Hong Kong, Macau, and mainland China to “impose sanctions or blockade, or engage in other hostile activists” against the semi-autonomous city.

Lai is the fourth person – and the city’s highest-profile figure – charged under the national security law since it came into effect on June 30.

A person convicted of violating the national security law can face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Critics of the law, which punishes secession, subversion, terrorism, and colluding with foreign forces, say it effectively crushes civil liberties and ends the “one country, two systems” political arrangement, which has differentiated Hong Kong from mainland China.

On Dec.23, he was released on bail under stringent conditions, including paying HK$10 million ($1.29 million) in cash.

He was confined to his residence and banned from giving press interviews and posting on social media. EFE-EPA


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