FILE PHOTO: Hong Kong Media mogul Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, founder of Apple Daily Photograph:( Reuters )
Jimmy Lai He has been accused of colluding with foreign countries by calling on overseas governments to sanction Hong Kong and China in response to the crackdown on pro-democracy activism in the city
Hong Kong media tycoon and China-critic Jimmy Lai was produced in court on Saturday to face charges under Hong Kong's national security law. He has been accused of colluding with foreign countries by calling on overseas governments to sanction Hong Kong and China in response to the crackdown on pro-democracy activism in the city. If Jimmy Lai is found guilty, he may spend his life in jail.
Jimmy Lai is the most high-profile person who has been charged under the new law.
The prosecutor told the court that Lai broke the security law between July 1 and December 1 by requesting that a foreign country or institution, organisation or individual "impose sanctions or blockade, or engage in other hostile activities" against Hong Kong and China.
Lai was dressed in a suit and appeared calm. He said he acknowledged the charges.
Chief Magistrate Victor So, one of the six magistrates hand-picked by the city's pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam to handle national security cases, said the prosecution needed time to further investigate.
This included examining more than a thousand messages from Lai's Twitter accounts, a number of media interviews the tycoon gave, and a number of overseas visits in relation to calls for US sanctions against Hong Kong and China.
After the hearing, Lai's supporters shouted words of encouragement, which he returned with a heart-shape hand gesture.
Lai's popular Apple Daily newspaper, citing sources, said the bulk of the police case revolved around social media posts and interviews Lai gave to Western media.
It reported that the police allegations said Lai had followed 53 people on Twitter including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and a member of Britain's Conservative Party, Luke de Pulford, and that he had 120,000 followers including Tiananmen student protest leaders Wang Dan and Wuer Kai Xi.
(With AFP inputs)