Media tycoon Jimmy Lai has been arrested under Hong Kong’s national security legislation, and his newspaper raided, as he was accused of “colluding with foreign powers” in the most prominent arrest since China imposed the controversial law just over a month ago.
Lai’s Apple Daily reported that 10 police officers arrived at the 72-year-old’s home at about 7am (23:00 GMT on Sunday), and later began livestreaming a raid on its headquarters by scores of police who could be seen looking through piles of papers including on reporters’ desks.
Mark Simon, a senior executive at Lai’s Next Media group, said on Twitter that the tycoon was “being arrested for collusion with foreign powers at this time”.
The police confirmed the arrest of seven people aged between 39 and 72.
“Offences include collusion with a foreign country/external elements to endanger national security, Article 29 of the NSL.. Investigation is underway,” the force posted on its official Twitter account. Article 29 relates to alleged offences, including receiving any kind of support – directly or indirectly – from people overseas, and carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Lai’s is the most high-profile arrest since China imposed the security legislation, triggering condemnation from activists within Hong Kong as well as from Western countries who feared the law would be used to crack down on critics and stifle reporting.