08/10/2020, 09.22
HONG KONG - CHINA
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Business mogul Jimmy Lai arrested; raid on his 'Apple Daily' newspaper

by Paul Wang

The Party had been trying to stop him for some time. Global Times: You have been offending the authorities in Hong Kong and the motherland for years. Thanks to the security law, along with Lai, six other people were arrested, including the tycoon’s son Ian. Press freedom in Hong Kong wavers.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Businessman Jimmy Lai, one of the most versatile but also one of the most critical of the Chinese regime, was arrested this morning at his home in Ho Man Tin. The headquarters of his "Apple Daily" newspaper also suffered a police raid in search of evidence showing "cooperation with foreign forces," under the new national security law.

The police website announces that seven men between the ages of 39 and 72, suspected of "collaboration with foreign forces" and "conspiracy to commit fraud", were arrested in this morning's operation.

Apple Daily reports that in addition to Jimmy Lai, one of his sons, Ian, was also arrested. There is also an arrest warrant for his other son, Simon, but he is outside Hong Kong.

Two months ago Jimmy Lai was already accused of "inciting an unauthorized demonstration" in August 2019; added to this is another charge of having "incited" to participate in the June 4 vigil in memory of those killed in Tiananmen.

Chinese state media Global Times on today described Lai as "riot supporter" and his publications as having been "instigating hatred, spreading rumors and smearing Hong Kong authorities and the mainland for years".

Jimmy Lai started his fortune in the world of packaging and retail. His “Giordano” products have spread all over the world. But Lai has always been a supporter of democracy and free speech. In the 1990s, he accused Premier Li Peng - the one who ordered the Tiananmen massacre - of being "the rotten egg of the brood". As a result, China banned his stores throughout the continental territory.

Converted as an adult to Catholicism and a great friend of the then bishop of Hong Kong, Msgr. Joseph Zen, Lai continued his campaign for freedom with Apple Daily, becoming a great supporter of the democratic movement.

Undoubtedly, the Party has wanted to get its hands on him and his newspaper for years, which often publishes news of scandals and corruption within the Beijing leadership. Thanks to the new security law, Beijing now has its hands free to pursue this aim.

Wang Dan, dissident and exiled student leader of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, said the arrest "was expected" but "very outrageous because his two sons were also arrested, which was obviously an attempt by the authorities to destroy Lai's will through family ties."

Wang posted on social media "I call on the international community to take immediate action."

Steven Butler, Asia programme co-ordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said the arrest "bears out the worst fears that Hong Kong's national security law would be used to suppress critical pro-democracy opinion and restrict press freedom".

 

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