Jailed Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai has been arrested again, on suspicion of assisting one of 12 fugitives China captured at sea last year, his Apple Daily tabloid and Oriental Daily reported on Wednesday, February 17 without citing any source. In 2020, Lai was charged with fraud, “colluding with foreign forces” and also supporting the city state’s pro-democracy movement. He was awaiting his bail trial scheduled for February 18.
However, Chinese officials have once again arrested him, this time under National Security Law. As per ANI, Lai has been accused of “conspiracy to assist an offender", and "conspiracy to collude with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security" - a crime carrying a maximum sentence of life in prison. He is currently remanded in the maximum-security facility.
Lai, a prominent face in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement have been arrested and released several times. Initially, detained in December last year, Lai was freed on bail. However, the government critic was sentenced to prison by the city state’s top court.
Providing “apparently unfretted power” to the immigration director to stop anyone from leaving the city, Hong Kong government’s latest proposal limiting immigration has been deemed “particularly troubling”. As per The Guardian report, the Hong Kong Bar Association (HKBA) expressed alarm on February 12 in a paper submitted to Hong Kong’s legislative council about the proposed law that could effectively bar any person, whether Hong Kong resident or not, from leaving the financial hub.
In the submission, HKBA elaborated on is concerning over the proposed bill and wrote, “It is particularly troubling that the grounds on which such an intrusive power may be exercised are not stated in the proposed legislation, and no explanation for why such a power is necessary, or even how it is intended to be used, is set out.” It even said that a new power to prevent people from fleeing Hong Kong is to be conferred, “it should be for the courts, not the director, to decide when it is necessary and proportionate to impose a travel ban.”