Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai was ordered back into custody on Thursday after the city’s highest court revoked his bail — and the pro-democracy activist could remain behind bars until February.
Lai, 73, is the most high-profile person charged under Hong Kong’s national security law that was imposed on the territory by China in June to crackdown on protests that had rocked the city for months.
He was released on $1.3 million bail last week but the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal said it was “reasonably arguable” that the judge may have erred in doing so.
As part of his bail conditions, Lai surrendered his travel documents and was banned from publishing articles online and meeting with foreign officials.
Lai, who founded the media company Next Digital and the newspaper Apple Daily that is highly critical of Hong Kong and China, was accused on Dec. 12 on suspicion of colluding with foreign forces and jeopardizing national security.
He was accused earlier this month of fraud for violating terms of his lease on office space for Next Digital.
After his hearing Thursday, Lai is scheduled to return for an appeal on Feb. 1.
Chinese state-media called the bail decision “inconceivable” and described Lai as “notorious and extremely dangerous.”
“Yet he became the first suspect to be granted bail after being arrested for violating the national security law, which is inconceivable,” the People’s Daily wrote in an editorial. “After the implementation of the national security law in Hong Kong, if people like Lai who stir up trouble in Hong Kong can be bailed out, who else wouldn’t be?” it continued.
The editorial went on to say that China could take over the case because of provisions in the national security law that allows China to “exercise jurisdiction over a case concerning offence endangering national security.”
Citing Section 42 of the security law, the Court of Final Appeal said it stipulates that “no bail shall be granted to a criminal suspect or defendant unless the judge has sufficient grounds for believing that the criminal suspect or defendant will not continue to commit acts endangering national security.”
The Chinese-imposed national security law cracks down on dissent and allows people who have been charged in Hong Kong to be tried on the mainland.
With Post wires
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