Hong Kong media owner Jimmy Lai was arrested by police today under the territory’s draconian new security law.
Lai was accused of collusion with foreign forces and the offices of his Apple Daily newspaper were raided by more than 200 police officers.
Lai is the most high-profile victim of a Beijing-backed crackdown following the passing of a new security law in June which critics said could mark the end of political dissent and freedom of speech in Hong Kong.
Read more: Britain cannot stand by in the face of shocking human right abuses across Hong Kong
The media tycoon, 71, has been one of the most prominent democracy activists in the Chinese-ruled city and an ardent critic of Beijing.
His arrest fuels fears that the ‘one country, two systems’ model introduced after the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997 is under threat as China pushes back against pro-democracy protesters.
It “bears out the worst fears that Hong Kong’s National Security Law would be used to suppress critical pro-democracy opinion and restrict press freedom,” said Steven Butler, the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Asia programme coordinator. “Jimmy Lai should be released at once and any charges dropped.”
Ryan Law, chief editor of Apple Daily, told Reuters the paper would not be intimidated by the raid.
“Business as usual,” he said.
The new security law punishes anything China considers subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison. Critics say it crushes freedoms, while supporters say it will bring stability after prolonged pro-democracy protests last year.
Lai had been a frequent visitor to Washington, where he has met officials, including secretary of state Mike Pompeo, to rally support for Hong Kong democracy, prompting Beijing to label him a “traitor”.
Hong Kong police said they had arrested seven men, aged 39-72, on suspicion of breaching the new security law, without naming them, adding that further arrests were possible.
Apple Daily, which posted on its Facebook page a livestream of police officers roaming through its newsroom and rifling through files, reported Lai was taken away from his home early on Monday.
The live feed showed staff being asked to show identity documents. Some executive offices were sealed off with red cordons. The police later wheeled in stacks of empty plastic containers.
Lai himself was brought back to the office later, initially in handcuffs.
“We can’t worry that much, we can only go with the flow,” Lai said, before being escorted into a police vehicle.
The post Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai arrested under new security law appeared first on CityAM.
Reference: City A.M.: James Booth 12 hrs ago: 10th August 2020