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Rule of LawAsia

Hong Kong: Jimmy Lai arrested in jail for helping fugitives

February 17, 2021

The media tycoon is already in prison after being arrested under the controversial new National Security Law.

Hong Kong pro-democracy activist and media tycoon Jimmy Lai arrives at a court in Hong Kong
Jimmy Lai is currently in detention pending an appeal after being charged in December of collusion with foreign forcesImage: Kin Cheung/AP Photo/picture alliance

Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai is facing new criminal charges over allegedly assisting a fugitive who tried to escape to Taiwan, local media reported on Wednesday.

Lai is the most high-profile person to be charged under a new security law that was implemented by Beijing last year.

What is he accused of?

Despite already being in jail, Lai was arrested once again, reported his Apple Daily tabloid as well as local newspaper Oriental Daily.

Neither paper provided further details on his re-arrest.

The latest accusations against Lai concern 12 Hong Kong fugitives who were captured at sea by China last year as they tried to make their way to Taiwan.

Lai is accused of assisting one of the people who tried to escape, Apple Daily reported.

The fugitive is being investigated over suspected national security crimes.

What happened with the fugitives?

China's coast guard captured the 12 people in August last year on a boat believed to be bound for Taiwan.

The fugitives potentially face charges over mass pro-democracy protests in 2019.

The suspects were held in a prison on mainland China until December.

Ten of those detained were convicted for illegally crossing the border or organizing the journey. They were handed sentences ranging from seven months to three years.

Two others on the boat are minors and were sent back to Hong Kong.

Police spray mosque blue

Who is Jimmy Lai?

The 72-year-old is an entrepreneur and media mogul in Hong Kong.

He's the founder of the popular Apple Daily tabloid newspaper, which is known for its critical coverage of China and Hong Kong.

He was arrested in August last year in a massive police raid on the Apple Daily's newsroom.

He was charged with requesting foreign interference in Hong Kong's affairs in two statements he made last summer. He was charged under the controversial new National Security Law.

Beijing imposed the sweeping law on the former British colony last June, following months of pro-democracy protests.

The legislation punishes anything that China considers subversion, secession, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces with a life prison sentence.

In Hong Kong, 'the resistance will go on'

rs/rt (Reuters, dpa)