Pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai denies violating national security law

WION Web Team Hong Kong Aug 14, 2020, 04.12 PM(IST)

Media mogul Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, founder of Apple Daily speaks during an interview to response national security legislation in Hong Kong, China Photograph:( Twitter )

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Lai, a staunch supporter of the city's democracy movement, was arrested on Monday on suspicion of collusion with foreign forces as police raided the offices of his Apple Daily tabloid.

Pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai denies violating national security law calling accusations an ''excuse to clamp down'' by Beijing.

Three days after he was released from police custody, Lai said in an interview ''I have never given one cent or dime to the movement and nobody has given us any money except moral support''.

Lai, a staunch supporter of the city's democracy movement, was arrested on Monday on suspicion of collusion with foreign forces as police raided the offices of his Apple Daily tabloid.

He was released on bail early on Wednesday, and greeted by a throng of supporters chanting "fight till the end".

US President Donald Trump on Thursday criticized the arrest of Hong Kong media tycoon saying "I think it's a terrible thing".

Since Lai's arrest people have been queuing up early in the morning to buy his Apple Daily, and many have also bought shares in Next Digital, Lai's media company that publishes his newspaper, sparking a rally of more than 2,000 per cent at its peak.

The 71-year-old, who China sees as a "traitor", was arrested under a new security law imposed by Beijing on June 30 in response to a year of pro-democracy unrest in the former British colony, which returned to China in 1997 under a "one country, two systems" formula aimed at preserving its autonomy.

Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement, fuelled by fears Beijing has been eroding city freedoms, has enjoyed and sustained broad support in the city.

Critics say the law brings semi-autonomous Hong Kong closer to mainland China's authoritarianism, while its supporters say it will bring stability to the city and safeguard its prosperity.