Hong Kong, Aug 10 (EFE).- The shares of the company that owns the newspaper Apple Daily, known for its critical stance toward the China government and whose founder Jimmy Lai was arrested Monday at his Hong Kong home for “foreign conspiracy” and “use of seditious words” shot up 200 percent at the stock exchange.
Shares of Next Digital, the parent company of Apple Daily, were up by more than 277 percent at 2:30 pm at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange after pro-democracy groups called for support of the company by acquiring its stocks.
Lai was detained by agents of the new police unit created to enforce the national security law approved by China last June.
The Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post pointed out that the tycoon was arrested for allegedly violating that security law, approved by the National People’s Congress (Chinese legislature) and criticized by the pro-democracy movement, which considers that it could end freedoms in the former British colony.
Shortly after his arrest, dozens of Hong Kong police officials showed up at Apple Daily’s headquarters in the city, according to the newspaper that posted photographs showing the officials on its Twitter account.
The Hong Kong police said on their Facebook page that they had gone to the newspaper’s headquarters with a warrant to investigate crimes endangering national security.
Lai was also seen at the headquarters later, in handcuffs.
In addition to Lai, his sons, Timothy and Ian and four executives of Next Digital have been detained over suspected collusion with foreign forces, according to the Apple Daily.
Born in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, Lai started his fortune in the textile industry and later entered the media sector and founded the Apple Daily, known for its critical positions on Beijing and support of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.
When he was indicted earlier this year for his participation in the 2019 protest rallies in the city, official Chinese media called him “the mind in the shadow of the unrest.”
On Jun. 30, when the national security law came into effect, Lai called the new regulations “the death sentence for Hong Kong” and said he was “prepared to go to jail.”
Hong Kong has enjoyed a high degree of autonomy since it returned to Chinese sovereignty from Britain in 1997, and its citizens enjoy rights such as freedom of speech and the press, which are unthinkable in mainland China.
The national security law establishes penalties of life imprisonment for the crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism or “conspiring with foreign forces.”
The Hong Kong pro-democracy movement considers that the regulations will make it possible to punish dissidents and reduce the autonomy and freedoms of the territory, while Beijing affirms that it will restore stability lost in the city after the 2019 riots. EFE