Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai has been arrested over suspected collusion with overseas forces below the brand new nationwide safety legislation, his prime aide mentioned on Twitter, in what’s the highest-profile arrest but below the laws.
Lai has been one of the outstanding democracy activists within the Chinese language-ruled metropolis and an ardent critic of Beijing, which imposed the sweeping new legislation on Hong Kong on June 30, drawing condemnation from Western international locations.
The brand new safety legislation punishes something China considers subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with overseas forces with as much as life in jail.
Critics say it crushes freedoms within the semiautonomous metropolis, whereas supporters say it is going to deliver stability after extended pro-democracy protests final 12 months.
“Jimmy Lai is being arrested for collusion with overseas powers at the moment,” Mark Simon, a senior government at Lai’s media firm Subsequent Digital, which publishes native tabloid Apple Day by day, mentioned early on Monday.
Police didn’t instantly remark.
Apple Day by day reported that Lai was taken away from his residence in Ho Man Tin early on Monday. The paper says considered one of Lai’s sons, Ian, was additionally arrested at his residence.
Round 10 different folks had been anticipated to be arrested on Monday, native newspaper South China Morning Publish reported, with out naming its sources.
Lai was additionally arrested this 12 months on unlawful meeting fees, together with different main activists, referring to protests final 12 months.
In an interview with Reuters in Could, Lai pledged to remain in Hong Kong and proceed to struggle for democracy though he anticipated to be one of many targets of the brand new laws.
Earlier than Monday, 15 folks had been arrested below the legislation, together with 4 aged 16-21 late final month over posts on social media.
The brand new laws has despatched a chill by Hong Kong, affecting many points of life. Activists have disbanded their organizations, whereas some have fled town altogether.
Slogans have been declared unlawful, sure songs and actions resembling forming human chains have been banned in faculties, and books have been taken off cabinets in public libraries.
America on Friday imposed sanctions on Hong Kong Chief Govt Carrie Lam, the territory’s present and former police chiefs and eight different prime officers for what Washington says is their position in curbing political freedoms within the territory.
Beijing’s prime consultant workplace in Hong Kong described the sanctions as “clowning actions.”
Beijing and the Hong Kong authorities have mentioned the legislation won’t have an effect on rights and freedoms, and that it’s wanted to plug safety loopholes. They mentioned it is going to solely goal a small minority of “troublemakers.”