HK courtroom grants tycoon Jimmy Lai bail in national stability, fraud case

Melissa M. Munoz

HONG KONG (Reuters) – A Hong Kong courtroom granted HK$10 million ($1.3 million) bail on Wednesday to media tycoon Jimmy Lai, the maximum profile professional-democracy activist charged underneath the city’s new nationwide protection regulation on suspicion of colluding with foreign forces. An fast appeal by the prosecution was then denied […]

HONG KONG (Reuters) – A Hong Kong courtroom granted HK$10 million ($1.3 million) bail on Wednesday to media tycoon Jimmy Lai, the maximum profile professional-democracy activist charged underneath the city’s new nationwide protection regulation on suspicion of colluding with foreign forces.

An fast appeal by the prosecution was then denied on the very same day.

Lai is 1 of the money hub’s most ardent critics of Beijing, while his Next Media team is deemed 1 of the key remaining bastions of media flexibility. He was arrested in August when about 200 police officers raided the newsroom of his Apple Daily tabloid.

Lai, 73, who had been in custody since Dec. 3, is also billed with fraud associated to the lease of a creating that properties Apple Daily.

The security law – which punishes what Beijing broadly defines as secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to everyday living in jail – has been condemned by the West and human legal rights groups as a instrument to crush dissent in the semi-autonomous, Chinese-dominated city.

Authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing say the law is essential to plug gaping holes in nationwide protection defences exposed by months of from time to time violent anti-governing administration and anti-China protests that rocked the world financial hub final 12 months.

Less than the new law, the onus is on the defendant to confirm they would not be a nationwide security menace if produced on bail. Beneath Hong Kong’s typical legislation-based lawful method, the onus has ordinarily been on the prosecution to prove its case.

Beneath his bail terms, Lai is not allowed to meet with international officers, give any interviews, publish any content or article on social media, and will have to keep on being at home and surrender his vacation documents.

The tycoon has been a recurrent customer to Washington, assembly with officers, together with Secretary of Condition Mike Pompeo, to rally support for Hong Kong democracy, prompting Beijing to label him a “traitor”.

($1 = 7.7523 Hong Kong bucks)

Reporting by Katherine Cheng Producing by Marius Zaharia Enhancing by Tom Hogue

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