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Thursday, January 21, 2021

Hong Kong: Jimmy Lai, pro-democracy tycoon, in custody on fraud charge

Outspoken pro-democracy Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai is facing charges of contravening the lease terms for office space. The owner of the Apple Daily, he will now be in custody until mid-April after being denied bail.

By: Deutsche Welle | Updated: December 4, 2020 8:35:57 am
Jimmy Lai, Apple Daily, Next DigitalFounder of pro-democracy Apple Daily tabloid, Jimmy Lai. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Hong Kong media tycoon and pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai was denied bail on Thursday on a charge of fraud. The accusations relate to the lease of a building that houses his Apple Daily, an anti-government tabloid.

Lai, 73, and two senior executives of his company Next Digital, were charged the previous day on suspicion of concealing from and falsely representing the use of their office to their landlord, a public corporation set up by the Hong Kong government.

The charge stated they were not using the office space as permitted under the lease between 2016 to 2020, and had sub-let a part of the premises, resulting in benefits to Apple Daily.

Growing crackdown in Hong Kong

Also on Wednesday, prominent democracy activist Joshua Wong was jailed for more than 13 months for his role in an unlawful anti-government rally in 2019. It marked the toughest and most high-profile sentencing of an opposition figure this year.

Authorities have intensified a crackdown on key opposition figures in the Chinese-ruled city since Beijing circumvented the local legislature and imposed controversial national security legislation on June 30.

The law, which broadly targets secession, subversion, collusion with foreign forces and terrorism, has attracted widespread international criticism.

Critics say it crushes freedoms in the global financial centre, while supporters say it will bring stability after prolonged anti-China, pro-democracy protests last year.

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