Taipei, December 11, 2020 – The Hong Kong police force today charged media entrepreneur Jimmy Lai, founder of Next Digital Limited, which owns the Apple Daily newspaper, with collusion with foreign forces under Hong Kong’s new national security law, a charge that carries up to life in prison if convicted, according to the Apple Daily and news reports.
“Charging Jimmy Lai under Hong Kong’s new national security law marks a dangerous escalation in China’s attacks on Hong Kong’s independent media,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in Washington, D.C. “China appears intent on crushing what remains of Hong Kong’s much vaunted tradition of press freedom. Lai should be freed at once, and all the charges he is facing should be dropped.”
Lai has been in custody since police detained him and two Apple Daily executives on a fraud charge on December 2, as CPJ documented at the time. He is expected to remain in jail at least until a court hearing on April 16, 2021, as a court rejected his bail on December 3, according to news reports. Lai’s collusion charge will enter court proceedings tomorrow at the West Kowloon Courts, according to those reports.
The Hong Kong Police Force did not immediately respond to CPJ’s emailed request for comment.