Crime & Justice

Hong Kong top court denies bail to media mogul Jimmy Lai

Beijing, Feb 9 (efe-epa).- Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai, accused of colluding with foreign forces, will remain in prison after the city’s top court on Tuesday upheld an appeal by the government against his release on bail in December.

Lai can appeal the ruling by the Court of Final Appeal.

The court said the judge, who granted Lai bail in December, “misconstrued” a clause of the national security legislation, public broadcaster RTHK reported.

The national security law that was imposed by China on June 30 punishes secession, subversion, terrorism, and colluding with foreign forces with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

The new ruling means that Lai must remain in custody but can appeal the judge’s original decision to deny him bail.

The top court said that “the lower court had required prosecutors to show that the defendant would threaten national security to deny bail” and that “judges considering bail could take into account conditions imposed for bail with the intent of preventing defendants from endangering national security,” according to RTHK.

On Dec.23, the 73-year-old founder of Apple Daily and an outspoken Beijing critic was released on bail by the High Court under stringent conditions, including paying HK$10 million ($1.29 million) in cash.

He was also required to stay at home except to report to the police three times a week or appear in court, which meant a de facto house arrest.

The owner of the Next Digital media group was also ordered to surrender his passport and was banned from posting on social media, giving press interviews, making public statements, meeting with foreign officials and conspiring with foreign forces.

On Dec. 31, the Court of Final Appeal revoked Lai’s bail and remanded him in custody again. EFE-EPA

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