Tue, 19 Jan 2021

HONG KONG, Aug 10 (ANI): Continuing with the suppression of the dissenting voices in Hong Kong since the national security law was imposed, Jimmy Lai, a media tycoon and critic of the Chinese Communist Party, was arrested on Monday on charges of "collusion with a foreign country."

The New York Times reported that Lai's company Next Digital publishes Apple Daily, a fiercely pro-democracy newspaper that regularly takes on the Hong Kong government and the Chinese leadership. He is denounced by Chinese officials, pro-Beijing news outlets in Hong Kong, and China's state-run news media.

According to Apple Daily, 72-year-old Lai was being investigated on charges of partnering with a foreign country. Besides Lai, his two sons have also been arrested on charges of violating the company business code.

The New York Times quoted Mark Simon, a senior executive with Next Digital, as saying that Lai's sons had no involvement with Apple Daily, thus indicating the fact that the authorities are probing into Lai's private investments as well.

Meanwhile, several senior employees of Next Digital are being questioned. The Hong Kong Police tweeted, "So far, 7 people, aged between thirty-nine to 72, have been arrested on suspicion of breaches of the National Security Law. Offences include collusion with a foreign country/external elements to endanger national security, Article 29 of the NSL. Investigation is underway." The media mogul was earlier arrested in February for participating in an unauthorised protest last year. He faces charges for joining an unauthorised vigil on June 4 to mark the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown by Beijing, The New York Times reported.

In one of his articles published by The New York Times, he wrote, "I have always thought I might one day be sent to jail for my publications or for my calls for democracy in Hong Kong...But for a few tweets, and because they are said to threaten the national security of mighty China? That's a new one, even for me." The law is aimed at crushing dissent in the erstwhile British colony which saw massive pro-democracy protests last year.

The legislation, which came into effect on July 1, punishes what Beijing terms secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference with up to life in prison.

Several countries have suspended their extradition agreements with Hong Kong in the wake of imposition of the controversial security law.

Germany has decided to suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong, Foreign Minister Heiko Mass, said on Friday (local time) after the erstwhile British colony decided to postpone legislative council elections.

China earlier announced the suspension of Hong Kong's extradition treaties with Canada, Australia and Britain after the three countries announced similar decisions in protest to the controversial new security law. (ANI)

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