Hong Kong pro-democracy tycoon Jimmy Lai released on £1million bail in national security case


Hong Kong pro-democracy tycoon Jimmy Lai is released on £1million bail after he was charged under Beijing’s new security law

  • Lai charged with colluding with foreign force and endangering national security
  • He is the most high-profile out of more than two dozen charged under a new law
  • Lai, an outspoken critic of Beijing and founder of Apple Daily, arrested in August
  • New security law outlaws secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces to intervene in Hong Kong’s internal affairs

Hong Kong newspaper owner and Beijing critic Jimmy Lai has been released on bail after being charged under the city’s new national security law.

Lai, who founded Apple Daily tabloid, was freed on a £960,000 bond after being charged with colluding with foreign forces and endangering national security.

The 73-year-old is one of the financial hub’s most ardent Beijing critics, while his Next Media group – the firm that operates Apple Daily – is considered one of the key remaining bastions of media freedom. 

He was arrested in August when about 200 police officers raided the newsroom of Apple Daily.

Jimmy Lai, the owner of Hong Kong’s Apple Daily newspaper which is fiercely critical of Beijing, has been released on £1million bail after he was charged under the city-state’s new security laws

Lai's Next Media group - which owns Apple Daily - is considered one of the key remaining bastions of media freedom. He is pictured getting into a police van on Decmber 12 after being charged under the national security law

Lai’s Next Media group – which owns Apple Daily – is considered one of the key remaining bastions of media freedom. He is pictured getting into a police van on Decmber 12 after being charged under the national security law

Lai who has been in custody since December 3, is also charged with fraud related to the lease of a building that houses the tabloid.

He is the most high-profile person out of more than two dozen charged under the sweeping security law since it was imposed by Beijing in June. 

Beijing imposed the national security law in response to protests in Hong Kong that began in June 2019 over a proposed extradition law and expanded to include demands for greater democracy in the former British colony.

The legislation outlaws secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces to intervene in Hong Kong’s internal affairs.

In certain cases, those charged under the national security law could also face trial in mainland China, where the legal system is highly opaque.

He is the most high-profile person out of more than two dozen charged under the sweeping law since it was imposed by Beijing in June. Pictured: On Friday

He is the most high-profile person out of more than two dozen charged under the sweeping law since it was imposed by Beijing in June. Pictured: On Friday

The security law has been condemned by the West and human rights groups as a tool to crush dissent in the semi-autonomous, Chinese-ruled city.

The broad legislation prompted more public protests and led to complaints that Beijing is violating the autonomy promised to Hong Kong when was handed over to China from Britain in 1997. 

Apple Daily criticised the law on its front page on July 1, calling it the ‘final nail in the coffin’ of the territory’s autonomy.  

Authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing say the law is necessary to plug gaping holes in national security defences exposed by months of sometimes violent anti-government and anti-China protests that rocked the global financial hub last year.

Beijing says stability and order has been restored and has dismissed the huge crowds that protested as a foreign plot to destabilise China. Pictured: Pro-democracy activists at a rally in the Causeway Bay district of Hong Kong on June 12 as they marked the one-year anniversary of major clashes between police and pro-democracy demonstrators

Beijing says stability and order has been restored and has dismissed the huge crowds that protested as a foreign plot to destabilise China. Pictured: Pro-democracy activists at a rally in the Causeway Bay district of Hong Kong on June 12 as they marked the one-year anniversary of major clashes between police and pro-democracy demonstrators 

Under the new law, the onus is on the defendant to prove they would not be a national security threat if released on bail. 

Under Hong Kong’s common law-based legal system the onus has traditionally been on the prosecution to prove its case.

Under his bail terms, Lai is not allowed to meet with foreign officials, give any interviews, publish any articles or post on social media, and will have to remain at home and surrender his travel documents.

Lai has advocated for other countries to take a harsher stance on China. Last year he traveled to the US to meet with Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to rally support for Hong Kong democracy, prompting Beijing to label him a ‘traitor’. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk