Hong Kong police detained media tycoon Jimmy Lai and raided the writer’s headquarters Monday from the highest-profile use however of a new federal security law Beijing enforced on the city in June.
“Jimmy Lai has been detained for collusion with foreign forces at this moment,” Mark Simon, an executive of Lai’s media team and his aide, also composed on Twitter.
Masked and sporting a blue shirt and a light gray blazer, Lai was headed from his mansion at Kowloon by police officials wearing surgical masks and had been removed. The 71-year-old possesses popular tabloid Apple Daily and can be a vocal pro-democracy figure in Hong Kong who routinely criticizes China’s authoritarian rule.
Hong Kong authorities said seven individuals between 39 and 72 years old was arrested on suspicion of violating the new safety legislation, together with offenses such as collusion with a foreign nation, but the announcement did not disclose the names of the detained. The authorities didn’t rule out further arrests being made.
The movement, coming days following the U.S. government declared sanctions on Hong Kong and mainland Chinese officials, reveals China’s decision to proceed forward with all law despite external pressure.
The officers shrugged off the sanctions, which could have limited practical impact, with one stating that being termed by the U.S. revealed he had been doing the ideal thing for Hong Kong and China.
Simon said authorities hunted both Lai’s and his son’s house, and arrested several different members of press group Next Digital, that Lai founded.
It wasn’t immediately clear how Lai or many others in the paper might have colluded with foreign powers since the law went into effect.
This past year, Lai fulfilled Vice President of the United States Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the White House to talk about Hong Kong’s contentious legislation — because pulled — which could have enabled criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China to stand trial.
However, Hong Kong officials also have stated that the federal security legislation, which took effect June 30, wouldn’t be implemented retroactively. The law is broadly regarded as a way to curb dissent following anti-government protests rocked the semi-autonomous town for months this past year.
More than a hundred authorities also raided Next Digital’s headquarters in Hong Kong, entering the newsroom and hunting desks. It wasn’t clear exactly what the authorities were searching for at the headquarters. Simon stated in a tweet the authorities were using a search warrant.
Occasionally, officials seemed to input into heated exchanges with adjoining Digital staff present in the scene.
Next Digital functions the Apple Daily Lai, that Lai based in 1995, before Britain’s handover of Hong Kong into China. Much like Lai, Apple Daily has a powerful pro-democracy stance and frequently urged its readers to share in pro-democracy protests.
The safety law outlaws secessionist, subversive and terrorist actions, in addition to collusion with foreign forces from the town’s internal affairs. The maximum punishment for serious criminals is life imprisonment.
Last month, Chinese broadcaster CCTV stated pro-democracy activist Nathan Law and five other people were needed under regulations, though all six had returned abroad. The legislation had jumped to Britain in July to keep global advocacy work.