In the most prominent case of the National Security Law imposed by China in Hong Kong, the press mogul Jimmy Lai has been released on bail this Wednesday. Owner of the popular newspaper “Apple”, the most critical of the authoritarian regime in Beijing, Lai is charged with “collusion with foreign forces»For his comments on Twitter and in his newspaper asking for international support for the protests that have been demanding democracy since last year. An accusation for which he could be sentenced to life imprisonment, but which will test the respect for freedom of expression of the Hong Kong courts after the entry into force of the new law, which penalizes practically all political opposition.
After 20 days behind bars following two rejected bail requests, the High Court allowed Lai to return to his home upon payment of $ 10 million Hong Kong (1 million euros), according to the newspaper “South China Morning Post.” Until he is tried, he will remain under house arrest and will not be able to comment on social media or grant interviews. In addition to being prohibited from leaving the city, for which you have given your passport, you will not be able to meet with representatives of other countries or be involved in “hostile acts” against Hong Kong or China. Although the Department of Justice requested a certificate to appeal to the Court of Last Appeal, their request was rejected.
«Report and act»
The Prosecutor’s Office accuses Lai of “collusion with foreign forces” for having written messages on Twitter, with a copy to Secretary of State Pompeo, appealing to other countries to “report and act»Against the increasing repression of the Chinese regime in Hong Kong. The evidence also includes his comments in his own media outlet, the newspaper “Apple”, pointing out that the sanctions against Beijing for the new National Security Law would be more severe than for the Tiananmen massacre in 1989. Both his arrest how these charges have been criticized by human rights groups and by the United States and the European Union, which demand that their freedom of expression be respected.
Through Twitter, where prosecutors recall that he has 120,000 followers and follows prominent figures in favor of democracy, the tycoon also asked the US to be “tolerant” with Hong Kong youth seeking political asylum. In addition, the Prosecutor’s Office collects that it has held numerous forums on the internet with important guests with whom it has discussed how the West should join China to confront the authoritarianism of President Xi Jinping, whom he called “Mao Zedong 2”. According to the SCMP, some of these accusations refer to activities prior to the entry into force of the new National Security Law on June 30.
Along with these charges, Lai is accused of fraud for allegedly having illegally sublet a space at the headquarters of his company Next Digital, rented in turn to an industrial park of the Government of Hong Kong. In addition, he has other pending cases for the protests last year against Beijing and the banned surveillance of June 4, the anniversary of Tiananmen.
Lai, who has British nationality and turned 72 behind bars on December 8, was born in Canton (Guangzhou) and went into exile in Hong Kong as a child, where he began to work in a textile factory. Catholic, he has a fortune of more than one billion euros because he founded a textile brand, Giordano, which has 8,000 employees spread over 2,400 stores in 30 countries. But, as seen in his recent photos, handcuffed and with chains around his waist, not even his wealth has spared him from persecution by the Chinese regime for his political activism in Hong Kong.
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