Press chief Jimmy Lai was arrested on Monday on suspicion of collaborating with foreign forces. Shortly afterwards, dozens of Hong Kong police conducted a search of the premises of the Apple Daily, one of its properties.
New step in the muscular recovery of Hong Kong by Beijing: Hong Kong magnate Jimmy Lai was arrested at home, around 7 a.m. Monday, August 10 (23 hGMT, Sunday), AFP Mark Simon, one of his close associates, told other members of his press group had also been arrested.
In a statement, police said seven arrests were suspected of colluding with foreign forces – one of the offenses covered by the National Security Act introduced in late June by Beijing – and fraud.
Seen as Beijing’s response to months of protocratic protests that rocked the former British colony in 2019, the law gives authorities new powers to crack down on four types of state security violations: subversion, separatism, terrorism and collusion with outside forces.
Pictures of the search are sent directly
Jimmy Lai is the head of Next Media, which includes Apple Daily and Next magazine, two titles that are openly pro-democracy and critical of Beijing.
His press group was attacked in the name of the controversial security law and at the end of the morning, dozens of police officers showed up at the headquarters of an industrial area in the Lohas Park district (southeast). Apple Daily reporters post pictures of the search live on Facebook. The photos show the editor of the daily Wai-kwong team asking the police for their officers.
“Ask your colleagues not to touch anything until our lawyers check the warrant,” their intimate Mr. Law.
Police officers ordered reporters to line up and line up for identity checks, while others searched the newsroom. And Mr. Lai was taken to the stage.
Simon said on Twitter that searches had also taken place at the home of the magnate and his son.
As of this time, the police are in the houses of Mr. Lai and his son performing search options.
Other members of the group have been arrested or taken in for questioning. It’s a press room at Mr. Lai now so that information comes out locally.
– Mark Simon (@HKMarkSimon) August 10, 2020
Accused many times of collusion with foreign powers
For many Hong Kong people involved in the pro-democracy movement, Mr. Lai is a hero, a tabloid chief who built his fortune alone and the only Hong Kong press chief to stand up to the Chinese central government. Conversely, the Chinese state media regularly qualifies him as a “traitor” and accuses him of being the instigator of the 2019 protest.
Allegations of collusion with a foreign power doubled last year, when Lai met with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence, who brushed aside the accusations and declared that the people of Hong Kong had the right to meet with foreign politicians.
Two weeks before security legislation was introduced in Hong Kong, Lai told AFP he was “ready” for prison. “If necessary, I will be able to read books that I have not read,” he said.
In his interview with AFP in late June, he explained that the security law would “spell the end of Hong Kong” and said he was afraid the authorities would prosecute his journalists.