HK media tycoon Jimmy Lai arrested under national security for 'colluding with foreign powers'

Lai and son arrested, Apple Daily office searched, employees of parent company Next Media questioned by police

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Hong Kong media mogul and pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai (黎智英) has been arrested along with one of his sons under the contentious national security law, local media reported Monday (Aug. 10).

Lai, 71, was arrested on Monday for "colluding with foreign forces," reported Apple Daily, which Lai founded, but the reason for his son Ian Lai’s arrest remains unclear. The charge falls under the national security, which went into effect in July despite opposition from the pro-democracy camp in Hong Kong and criticism by foreign governments, such as the U.S., UK, and EU, about the increasing erosion of the city’s autonomy.

Approximately 10 plainclothes police officers raided Lai’s mansion in Kowloon at around 7 a.m. on Monday, while another squad visited Ian Lai’s residence in Sai Kung, a peninsula northeast of Hong Kong Island, the report said.

“The police are in the homes of Mr. Lai and his son executing search warrants,” tweeted Mark Simon, senior executive at Apple Daily's parent company Next Media. “Other members of the group have been detained or taken in for questioning,” he added.

As of press time, Hong Kong police have also been searching one of Apple Daily's offices.

Under the national security law, an individual who is found guilty of colluding with a foreign country or other external elements to endanger national security can face three to ten years imprisonment. If the offense is ruled to be "grave," an individual can be sentenced to more than 10 years and even life.

Lai was previously detained in April for his involvement in the protest movement that roiled the city last year, as were 14 other prominent pro-democracy figures, including barrister-turned-politician Martin Lee (李柱銘).