Hong Kong media mogul, Jimmy Lai, arrested under newly enacted National Security Law. This is the second time the outspoken 72 year-old Apple Daily boss under police custody. The first arrest happened in February 2020 when he was charged over illegal assembly in connection with August 31 2019 march and intimidating a reporter in 2017. Hong Kong court granted him HKD 4.000 bail while awaiting his three-day trial which scheduled on 19 August 2020.
For the second time on 10 August 2020, besides Jimmy Lai, there are also other six people arrested after more than 200 police raiding Apple Daily office in Tseung Kwan O area. Among others are two Jimmy Lai’s sons. One of the sons was arrested on suspicion of collusion with foreign and external forces to endanger national security, and the other was detained for conspiracy to defraud, according to another source.
The four others included Apple Daily’s CEO Cheung Kim-hung, and Chow Tat-kuen, its chief financial officer. Chow was also arrested for collusion with foreign and external forces to endanger national security, while Cheung was arrested for conspiracy to defraud. One of Lai’s aides, Mark Simon, who is currently abroad also wanted by Hong Kong police but still not clear for what kind of offense.
“The police have been undertaking an arrest operation since this morning,” the Hong Kong Police said in a Facebook statement on Monday. “At least seven local males, aged between 39 to 72 years, have been arrested on suspicion of collusion with a foreign country/external elements to endanger national security, conspiracy to defraud and other offenses.”
The statement added that “investigation is still underway and further arrests may be made.”
Article 38 of the national security law for the HKSAR targets four categories of crimes that seriously undermine national security – secession, subversion, terrorist activities and collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security.
A police source said the allegation of fraud was related to an investigation that was launched after some pro-Beijing groups, including Politihk Social Strategic, accused Lai of using the offices of Next Digital, Apple Daily’s parent company, to provide secretarial services, which could be a breach of land-lease terms and amount to providing false information to the Lands Department to evade rent.
Quoting Global Times, Tian Feilong, a legal expert on Hong Kong affairs at Beihang University in Beijing, said that the arrest represents the most typical case of violation of the national security law for Hong Kong, and Lai is highly likely to face heavy penalties given that he has constantly challenged the law.
“This time, for violating the national security law, it will be difficult for him to be granted bail again,” Tian said.