Next Digital Ltd. founder Jimmy Lai was denied bail after being charged with fraud, marking the outspoken pro-democracy media mogul’s latest run-in with the law as the city cracks down on high-profile dissidents.
Lai, 73, was kept in custody pending further proceedings, according to Mark Simon, an aide to the media tycoon. Two other Next Media executives who were charged alongside Lai were released on bail, Simon said. The case was adjourned until April 16, broadcaster Now TV reported.
Shares of Next Digital, which have been on a roller-coaster ride this year — they’ve hit record lows and 12-year highs in 2020 — were halted from trading in Hong Kong Thursday. They last traded at HK$0.23, down 10% for the year.
Lai’s arrest comes on the heels of another prominent activist, Joshua Wong, being sentenced for more than a year in jail for leading a protest outside of police headquarters last year. The moves represent the latest setbacks for the anti-Beijing movement that paralyzed the Asian financial hub last year. The turmoil prompted China to push through a national security law for the city, giving local authorities broad powers to silence critics.
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