Jimmy Lai and two democracy advocates arrested on flimsy charges

Domestic News
HONG KONG, CHINA - AUGUST 31: The media tycoon Jimmy Lai, attends a pro-democracy protesters march in Admiralty on August 31, 2019 in Hong Kong, China. Pro-democracy protesters have continued demonstrations across Hong Kong since 9 June against a controversial bill which allows extraditions to mainland China as the ongoing protests surpassed the Umbrella Movement five years ago, becoming the biggest political crisis since Britain handed its onetime colony back to China in 1997. Hong Kong's embattled leader Carrie Lam apologized for introducing the bill and declared it "dead", however the campaign continues to draw large crowds to voice their discontent while many end up in violent clashes with the police as protesters show no signs of stopping. (Photo by Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images)

Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai

Hong Kong has crossed another line. The South China Morning Post reports on three high-profile arrests made today:

  • Media mogul Jimmy Lai (黎智英 Lǐ Zhìyīng), and former lawmakers Lee Cheuk-yan (李卓人 Lǐ Zhuōrén) and Yeung Sum (楊森 Yáng Sēn) were arrested on Friday morning on charges of taking part in an illegal assembly during the anti-government protests in Hong Kong on August 31 last year. Lai was also accused of “intimidating” a reporter at an event in 2017.
  • The three were released on police bail at noon, after being detained at different police stations from around 7 a.m. 

Jimmy Lai’s Apple Daily is among the most influential Chinese-language publications in the city, and frequently publishes anti-government editorials. Lai himself wrote in the Wall Street Journal just a week ago that “the spread of the coronavirus has revealed a truth that poses a much greater risk to Mr. Xi: There is no cure for Chinese communism except the collapse of the party.”

Alex Lam, an Apple Daily reporter, tweeted:  

After our story on her leaked report to Beijing [in Chinese], in which she vowed to use the #COVID19 crisis to her political gains, #CarrieLam has gone into hiding for a week now. This morning, she gave her response.

“Rioters finally get a fair trial,” cheered a Xinhua commentary (in Chinese) today. A translated excerpt:

We expect the courts of Hong Kong to come to a fair ruling on all crimes Jimmy Lai is involved in. We believe even more that the scheming with external powers to mess Hong Kong up, openly saying that the state should be toppled, arousing populism as well as inciting violent treasoners will forever be nailed to a pillar of disgrace.  

More coverage of the Hong Kong arrests:

—Lucas Niewenhuis and Jeremy Goldkorn