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Jimmy Lai, Hong Kong pro-democracy media tycoon, arrested under new national security law

Jimmy Lai was arrested early Monday, in keeping with his enterprise companion Mark Simon. Apple Each day, a pro-democracy tabloid owned by Lai, reported that the tycoon’s son had already been detained.

The Hong Kong Police Pressure mentioned in a press release Monday that seven folks aged between 39 and 72 have been arrested on costs, together with collusion and conspiracy to commit fraud. The police assertion didn’t title any particular person, however a spokesman informed CNN that Lai was amongst them.

Later Monday morning, a livestream uploaded to Fb by Apple Each day confirmed police looking the corporate’s newsroom. A police spokesperson confirmed to CNN that the company had a search warrant to enter Apple Each day’s workplace.

Under the new security law, which was imposed on town by Beijing final month, the offense of colluding with international powers carries a most penalty of life imprisonment. Lai has robust ties to Washington and has lobbied for the USA to take a tougher line on China. What he has accomplished to contravene the law because it handed is unclear.

This is not Lai’s first conflict with Hong Kong authorities. He was arrested and faced charges earlier this year in connection with a protest march in August 2019. In June, Lai was charged with inciting folks to participate in an unauthorized meeting over an annual candlelight vigil in remembrance of the 1989 Tiananmen Sq. bloodbath. The vigil was banned by police this yr.
Lai’s newest arrest, although, is among the many first for the reason that security law was imposed on July 1. The law criminalized subversion, terrorism and collusion with international forces. Late final month, 4 members of a student-led pro-independence group have been arrested for alleged secessionist offenses on social media. Ten folks have been additionally arrested throughout a protest on July 1.

The Hong Kong authorities has defended the law as needed to guard national security. It has been denounced by human rights teams, the European Union, and the USA as overly broad and restrictive of town’s civil liberties.

On Friday, the US Consulate Common in Hong Kong and Macao said in a statement that “we have now repeatedly raised our grave issues concerning the impact this ill-defined, vaguely worded, and far-reaching law would have on Hong Kong.”
Lai’s arrest additionally comes as tensions between the United State and China over the national security law proceed to escalate. Washington imposed sanctions Friday against Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam and 10 different Chinese language and Hong Kong officers for undermining town’s autonomy.

Newspaper mogul

A former clothes magnate, Lai based Hong Kong’s Apple Each day newspaper in 1995 — two years earlier than Hong Kong was handed over from British to Chinese language management. Modeled visually on USA At present, the paper brought on a minor revolution within the metropolis’s media panorama, sparking a value warfare and drastically altering how rivals operated as they struggled to maintain up with Lai’s flashy tabloid sensibilities.

Whereas specializing in movie star gossip and different tabloid fare, for the reason that handover the paper has emerged as one of many fiercest critics of the native authorities and Beijing. It has overtly supported the pro-democracy motion and anti-government protests, printing flyers and posters in its pages that individuals can lower out and take to marches.

This drove the 71-year-old Lai to a spot of prominence inside the opposition motion, and made him a determine of loathing for pro-Beijing politicians and media within the metropolis.

Although his media affect has arguably waned in recent times, together with that of the normal pro-democracy events, his profile has if something grown, courtesy of a marketing campaign by Chinese language state media to paint him as one in all a “gang of 4” behind anti-government protests which broke out final yr.
Lai’s closeness to right-wing politicians in the United States — he met with Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after which National Security Adviser John Bolton in July final yr — has been utilized by Chinese language state media to color the whole protest motion, together with Apple Each day and comparable media, as US-controlled.

The Individuals’s Each day — the official mouthpiece of the Chinese language Communist Celebration — claimed on the time that Lai was a part of a quartet of “secretive middlemen and fashionable traitors,” as Beijing tried responsible the unrest in Hong Kong on international forces.

CNN’s Isaac Yee and Jenni Marsh contributed reporting.

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