Beijing, Aug 12 (efe-epa).- Hong Kong press magnate Jimmy Lai, who is very critical of Beijing, was released on bail Wednesday at dawn, 40 hours after his arrest under the new security law approved by Beijing for the former British colony, local press reported.
Lai, founder of the Apple Daily newspaper, left the Hong Kong police station in Mong Kok after midnight, where he was received by at least a dozen supporters, according to RTHK.
Lai’s bail reportedly amounts to HK $ 300,000 (about $ 38,700), plus another HK $ 200,000 (about $ 25,800) as collateral.
The rest of those detained by the local police on Monday were also released throughout the night.
Among them is the well-known pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow, one of the leaders of the dissolved Demosisto party, arrested on charges of “conspiracy with foreign forces to endanger national security,” one of the crimes in the new national security law approved by the Chinese National People’s Assembly.
Upon leaving the Tai Po police station, Chow declared that her arrest was part of a campaign of political persecution, the Hong Kong Free Press reported.
“It is very clear that the government is using the new security law to suppress political dissidents. I still don’t understand why I was arrested,” Chow said.
The activist will have to pay HK $ 200,000 Hong Kong and her passport has been confiscated.
On Monday, police carried out a three-hour search in the newsroom of the Apple Daily, a newspaper founded by Lai, and detained at least nine people: Lai, his two children, several executives of the media group he heads, and two activists from the pro-democracy movement in the city.
The arrests came days after the United States announced sanctions against 11 Hong Kong and Chinese officials, including the city’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, for their involvement in the enactment of the “draconian” national security law. Washington said it undermines the autonomy of the city. Beijing responded with similar sanctions.
Both before and after the new law came into force, it was rumored within the pro-democracy movement that Lai would be among the first to have problems with authorities. But the magnate – who has a British passport – decided to stay in Hong Kong, the city he stowed away on a ship from mainland China when he was 12 years old. EFE-EPA