Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai arrested under new national security law
Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai has been arrested over suspected collusion with foreign forces under the new national security law, according to his top aide, in what is the highest-profile arrest yet under the legislation.
- A senior executive at Mr Lai’s media company said police arrested him at his home
- In previous interviews, Mr Lai said he expected he would be arrested under the new law
- One of Mr Lai’s sons was also arrested, according to his top aide
Mr Lai has been one of the most prominent democracy activists in the Chinese-ruled city and an ardent critic of Beijing, which imposed the sweeping new law on Hong Kong on June 30, drawing condemnation from Western countries.
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 in the semi-autonomous city, while supporters say it will bring stability after prolonged pro-democracy protests last year.
“Jimmy Lai is being arrested for collusion with foreign powers at this time,” Mark Simon, a senior executive at Lai’s media company Next Digital, which publishes local tabloid Apple Daily, said in a tweet early on Monday.
Hong Kong police said in a statement that seven people had been arrested on suspicion of violating the national security law but did not reveal the names of those arrested.
Apple Daily reported that Mr Lai was taken away from his home in Ho Man Tin early on Monday. The paper says one of Mr Lai’s sons, Ian, was also arrested at his home.
Around 10 other people were expected to be arrested on Monday, local newspaper South China Morning Post reported, without naming its sources.
Mr Lai was also arrested this year on illegal assembly charges, along with other leading activists, relating to protests last year.
In recent interviews with media outlets, Mr Lai had pledged to stay in Hong Kong and continue to fight for democracy, even though he expected he would be one of the targets of the new legislation.
Before Monday, 15 people had been arrested under the law, including four aged 16 to 21 late last month over posts on social media.
The new legislation has affected many aspects of life in Hong Kong. Activists have disbanded their organisations, while some have fled the city altogether.
Slogans have been declared illegal, certain songs and activities such as forming human chains have been banned in schools and books have been taken off shelves in public libraries.
The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, the territory’s current and former police chiefs and eight other top officials for what Washington says is their role in curtailing political freedoms in the territory.
Beijing’s top representative office in Hong Kong described the sanctions as “clowning actions”.
Beijing and the Hong Kong Government have said the law will not affect rights and freedoms, and that it is needed to plug security loopholes. They said it will only target a small minority of “troublemakers”.