Jimmy Lai, the Hong Kong media mogul and one of many metropolis’s most public critics of the Chinese language Communist get together, was denied bail on Thursday and can stay in custody till at the least April.
The billionaire tycoon and pro-democracy campaigner appeared in courtroom a day after Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam, three of the territory’s most high-profile activists, have been jailed over their involvement in final yr’s anti-government protests.
The fraud costs relate to accusations that Mr Lai didn’t use a enterprise premises as permitted underneath the phrases of its lease.
Mr Lai, 73, has been a longstanding goal of Beijing and his Apple Every day tabloid is Hong Kong’s largest pro-democracy newspaper. He was additionally a frequent presence at protests final yr.
He was arrested in August for allegedly “colluding with international forces” underneath the nationwide safety legislation, a sweeping algorithm imposed by China on the semi-autonomous territory. He has denied the fees.
Mr Lai backed President Donald Trump’s aggressive method to Beijing and has met senior US officers together with Mike Pence, vice-president, and Mike Pompeo, secretary of state.
He told the Financial Times final month forward of the US presidential election that he was frightened a Joe Biden administration would retreat from Mr Trump’s robust techniques, though he stated that anti-China sentiment in Washington was now a bipartisan stance.
Mr Lai’s status was broken within the eyes of US liberals and Beijing, nonetheless, after Mark Simon, a former senior adviser, admitted to utilizing his cash to fund a essential report into the alleged enterprise hyperlinks of Hunter Biden, the son of the US president-elect, to the Chinese language Communist get together. Mr Lai claimed he was unaware of the mission and Mr Simon resigned.
Mr Lai was charged on Thursday alongside two different Subsequent Digital executives. They, nonetheless, have been each granted bail.
Lam Cheuk-ting, a former opposition politician in Hong Kong who was in courtroom, stated he was “astonished” by the choice to disclaim bail and accused the courtroom of “political prosecution”.
After each the UK and EU criticised the sentences handed to Mr Wong and Ms Chow, Beijing accused international nations in an editorial within the state-run China Every day of “peddling a form of exceptionalism searching for to position the main figures within the opposition camp above the legislation”.