Jimmy Lai, Hong Kong media tycoon, is reported to have been charged by authorities under the national security law by Beijing.
Jimmy Lai who is a media rebel was accused of colluding with foreign forces, as a crackdown on Beijing critics intensifies.
According to reports, Jimmy Lai is the most-high profile person so far to be charged under the sweeping new law, which Beijing imposed on Hong Kong at the end of June to clamp down on the pro-democracy movement after last year’s unrest.
The national security law targets succession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, but critics say it breaches the “one country, two systems” framework, which is meant to guarantee Hong Kong people a degree of autonomy and freedoms not afforded to the mainland.
Hong Kong police confirmed that a 73-year-old man was charged with “collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security” and that the case will be mentioned at West Kowloon Magistracy on Saturday morning.
Local broadcaster NowTV, quoting unnamed sources, reported that Friday’s new charge is related to Lai’s actions on Twitter and his media interviews, in which he may have called on other countries to sanction Hong Kong officials.
Jimmy Lai is already being held in custody until April on fraud charges for allegedly violating the terms of a lease housing his Apple Daily, a pro-democracy tabloid. He was denied bail last week.
It’s the latest in a wave of recent arrests and prosecutions targeting the city’s democracy activists.
News of Lai’s charge under the national security law comes on the heels of the Trump Administration sanctioning 14 senior Chinese officials over their role in the crackdown of opposition voices in Hong Kong and Beijing vowing retaliatory measures.