Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai could face trial in China

Jimmy Lai arrested, newspaper offices raided by Hong Kong police Monday

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Copies of Apple Daily, with front pages featuring media tycoon Jimmy Lai, are displayed for sale in Hong Kong on Aug. 11, 2020.

Copies of Apple Daily, with front pages featuring media tycoon Jimmy Lai, are displayed for sale in Hong Kong on Aug. 11, 2020. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai (黎智英), who was arrested on Monday (Aug. 10) under the draconian national security law imposed by Beijing, could face trial in China, an expert suggested.

Jeffrey Wasserstrom, an American historian of China who teaches at the University of California Irvine, was quoted by Mingpao as saying that Lai’s arrest could spell serious implications and that he may be extradited to China to stand trial.

The outcome would raise the specter of the already shelved extradition bill, which led to the months-long protests that gripped the semi-autonomous city of China last year and were believed to be associated with the forceful introduction of the national security law for Hong Kong.

Lai, a strident democracy activist, is charged with collusion with foreign forces, fraud, and sedition, according to CNA. While details of the charges remain unclear, such offenses could see him investigated and prosecuted by Beijing’s judicial system in compliance with the sweeping national security law.

He may face up to 10 years in prison and even a life sentence if convicted.

In the early hours of Tuesday (Aug. 11), Hong Kong readers were seen queuing for a copy of the Apple Daily, which vowed on its front page to “fight on” despite the detention of its owner.

The arrest has sparked an outcry from the international community, with U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo lambasting the Chinese Communist Party for “eviscerating Hong Kong’s freedoms and eroded the rights of its people.”

Next Digital, which publishes Apple Daily, saw its shares surge on Tuesday with pro-democracy activists urging investors to buy shares as a gesture of support. The boost in its stock prices could also be attributed to opportunist trading, wrote CNA.