Hong Kong police today arrested Catholic business tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying under the city’s new national security law — the first high-profile casualty of the controversial ruling that Beijing imposed in June.
A leading pro-democracy activist and a strong critic of Beijing’s human-rights policies, Lai was detained for “collusion with foreign powers,” according to Mark Simon, a senior executive of Next Digital, Lai’s media company that publishes Hong Kong’s Apple Daily newspaper.
Following Lai’s arrest on Monday, hundreds of police were sent to Apple Daily’s offices without a search warrant.
The businessman was one of seven people Hong Kong police apprehended for breaching the city’s new national security law, which punishes what China considers to be subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.
They could face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, as well as company fines and prohibitions to stand for public office. Trials could also be heard behind closed doors.
The new security law and other restrictions on civil liberties have alarmed many Western powers.
On Friday, the Trump administration issued sanctions against the leader of Hong Kong’s government, Carrie Lam, and other officials, saying the U.S. “stands with the people of Hong Kong” and would “use our tools and authorities to target those undermining their autonomy.”
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