Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai and activist Agnes Chow released on bail
Two prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy advocates have been freed on bail after being arrested under Beijing’s new national security laws.
- Jimmy Lai is one of the city’s most prominent democracy activists
- A crowd chanted its support as the media tycoon left the police station
- Activist Agnes Chow was also released on bail and described her arrest as “political persecution”
Hong Kong media tycoon and Apple Daily newspaper owner Jimmy Lai, and political activist Agnes Chow, were released shortly after midnight on Wednesday after being accused of colluding with foreign powers to undermine China.
They were detained along with a number of others on Monday, prompting condemnation in Hong Kong and overseas.
As he left the Mong Kok police station, Mr Lai was mobbed by a large crowd of media and a throng of supporters chanting: “Support Apple Daily until the end.”
He did not speak to reporters and was quickly driven away from the scene.
Apple Daily readers had queued from the early hours of Tuesday to get copies of the newspaper, a day after police raided its offices and took Mr Lai into detention in the highest-profile arrest under the national law.
Mainland-born Mr Lai, who was smuggled into Hong Kong on a fishing boat when he was a penniless 12-year-old, is one of the most prominent democracy activists in the city and an ardent critic of Communist Party rule in Beijing.
‘We shall continue to fight’
Speaking outside the city’s Tai Po police station, Ms Chow described her arrest as “political persecution” and accused the government of using the national security law to “suppress political dissidents”.
“And I hope that Hongkongers shall not give up, and we shall continue to fight for our basic human rights.”
The new security law allows a punishment of up to life in prison for anything China considers subversion, secession, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces.
Critics say it crushes freedoms, while supporters say it will bring stability after prolonged anti-China, pro-democracy protests last year.
The fear in Hong Kong, which has its own laws and courts and greater freedoms than mainland China, is that the Communist Party wants to mould the territory over time into a city similar to those on the mainland.
Hong Kong, and to a lesser degree Taiwan, have become battlegrounds for the competing world views of China and the United States.
Last week the US imposed sanctions on 11 Hong Kong and Chinese officials, including city leader Carrie Lam.
China responded by sanctioning 11 Americans, including six members of Congress.