Hong Kong media tycoon and pro-democracy supporter Jimmy Lai has been charged with fraud and detained till a courtroom listening to in April subsequent yr.
On Thursday a courtroom denied him bail over a cost regarding the unlawful use of his firm’s premises.
It comes a day after three outstanding pro-democracy activists had been jailed.
The circumstances have raised fears of a renewed crackdown on the town’s activists and media figures, spurred by a controversial new safety legislation.
Mr Lai was arrested beneath the National Security Law earlier this yr and later launched on bail.
China has stated the brand new legislation will return stability to the territory after a yr of unrest, however critics say it has silenced dissent.
Mr Lai, 73, was arrested on Wednesday night time together with two different senior executives from media firm Next Digital.
Mr Lai is the founding father of Next Digital which publishes Apple Daily, a well-read tabloid which is incessantly crucial of Hong Kong and mainland Chinese management.
On Thursday, the three males appeared in courtroom to face prices regarding the alleged unlawful use of their firm’s headquarters for functions not permitted by its lease. No additional particulars got.
The fraud cost shouldn’t be being heard beneath the National Security Law however, in accordance with an Apple Daily report, the choose presiding over the case had been hand-picked by the town’s chief, Carrie Lam, to deal with nationwide safety circumstances.
A police assertion on the arrests didn’t identify these detained however identified that one in all them – Jimmy Lai – was nonetheless beneath investigation for violating the National Security Law.
While the 2 senior executives had been granted bail, Mr Lai was denied as a result of he was deemed an “absconding risk”, in accordance with native stories.
Who is Jimmy Lai?
One of the town’s most outstanding supporters of the pro-democracy motion, Mr Lai is estimated to be value greater than $1bn (£766m). Having made his preliminary fortune within the clothes trade, he later ventured into media and based Next Digital.
In an area media panorama more and more petrified of Beijing, Mr Lai is a persistent thorn for China – each by means of his publications and writing that brazenly criticizes the Chinese management.
It has seen him change into a hero for a lot of residents in Hong Kong. But on the mainland, he’s seen as a “traitor” who threatens Chinese nationwide safety.
Earlier this yr, he was accused of “colluding with foreign forces” beneath the National Security Law.
He was arrested in August, turning into probably the most high-profile individual in Hong Kong to be detained beneath the legislation, and his newspaper workplaces had been raided by lots of law enforcement officials.
He was later launched on bail. However, he advised the BBC then the arrest was “just the beginning”.
What’s the scenario like in Hong Kong?
On Wednesday, activists Joshua Wong, Ivan Lam and Agnes Chow had been jailed for his or her involvement in mass protests final yr.
The younger activists – who’re among the many metropolis’s most outstanding – had been convicted of unauthorised meeting.
Rights group Amnesty International condemned the ruling, saying it was a method for authorities to “send a warning to anyone who dares to openly criticize the government that they could be next”.
What is within the National Security Law?
A former British colony, Hong Kong was handed again to China in 1997 however beneath the so-called “one country, two systems” precept.
It was supposed to ensure sure freedoms for the territory – together with freedom of meeting and speech, an impartial judiciary, and a few democratic rights – which mainland China doesn’t have.
But the National Security Law has lowered Hong Kong’s autonomy and made it simpler to punish demonstrators.
The laws launched new crimes, together with penalties of as much as life in jail. Anyone discovered to have conspired with foreigners to impress “hatred” of the Chinese authorities or the Hong Kong authorities might have dedicated against the law.
Trials may be held in secret and and not using a jury, and circumstances may be taken over by the mainland authorities. Mainland safety personnel can legally function in Hong Kong with impunity.
After the legislation was launched, a lot of pro-democracy teams disbanded out of fears for his or her security.
The Chinese authorities defend the legislation, saying it should assist return stability to the territory, which has been shaken by pro-democracy protests and produce it extra into line with the Chinese mainland.