Hong Kong’s media tycoon and pro-democracy chief, Jimmy Lai has been arrested for alleged foreign collusion.
The 71-year-old founder of news outlet Apple Daily was detained Monday morning under new national security laws. Lai was already facing various other charges on the organization and sparked protests last year.
Hong Kong police confirmed that seven people, aged 39 to 72, were arrested on suspicion of collusion with foreign forces against national security, and conspired to commit fraud. “The police operation is still ongoing and does not rule out more arrests,” This said.
Chinese state media, CCTV, said seven people, including Lai, were arrested by the newly established Hong Kong National Security Office and Pro-Beijing Hong Kong Title, Oriental Daily, said it issued a warrant for Mark Simon, Lai’s top aide had gone.
Apple Daily reported that Lai’s son was also arrested.
The arrest comes after the US imposed sanctions against senior Hong Kong officials, including US chief executive Carrie Lam, and comes amid deep concern over Hong Kong’s democratic collapse.
The elections held in September last week were delayed for a year due to an epidemic, and disqualified pro-democracy candidates.
On Sunday, Britain, America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand urged Hong Kong to hold elections as soon as possible.
Britain’s Foreign Minister Dominic Rabb said the joint statement of the “Five Eyes” countries were seriously concerned about the disqualification of candidates in Hong Kong.
“We appeal to the Hong Kong government to restore the qualifications of ineligible candidates,” the statement said. “We urge the Hong Kong government to hold elections as soon as possible.”
It said that the security law was “destroying the fundamental rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong”.
If Lai is charged with a crime of foreign collusion, he faces a prison sentence of three to 10 years, or a life term for a crime of a “serious nature”.
Lai’s company, Next Media, is the publisher of Hong Kong’s largest pro-democracy Daily Daily. Activist Eddie Chu-hoi Dick accused the Chinese Communist Party of closing the paper, saying Lai’s arrest was “the first step” [a] HK Media Blackout ”.
Jeffrey Wasserstrom, a Chinese academic at the University of California and a Hong Kong writer on the brink, said the move may be linked to anger over US sanctions, but they are part of the ongoing trend, a blow after trauma against people in Hong Kong Institutions are associated with their vibrant civil society. ”
He said the current circumstances were more severe than Lai’s previous arrests, which occurred before the imposition of the National Security Law, when there was “still segregation of powers” in Hong Kong.
“There is a risk under this new fear, that they may be transported to the mainland,” he said. “The difference between political life and civil society still remains in Hong Kong and mainland cities, but events such as these arrests show that what was once a ditch is not too early, too early, to become a narrow moat She goes.”
National security laws were enacted by Beijing in late June.
Requests or conspiring with a foreign country, institution, organization or person in offenses of foreign collusion – or receiving instructions from or receiving funds – obstructing government law, weakening elections or against Hong Kong or mainland China Ban is included. “Providing unlawfully also means hatred among Hong Kong people towards the government of Hong Kong or mainland China”.
On June 4, 25 people were charged on Friday for participating in the Tianmen Square massacre.
A report in Chinese state media mouthpiece The Global Times said that Lai was unlikely to get bail and would face “heavy penalties”.