Jimmy Lai: Hong Kong media tycoon and democracy advocate denied bail

Another court has denied bail to Hong Kong media tycoon and democracy campaigner Jimmy Lai ahead of his April trial.

He is accused of colluding with foreign elements to endanger national security, apparently for tweets he made and interviews or commentaries he gave to international media.

Hong Kong’s High Court said it would publish its reasons for rejecting Thursday’s application at a later date.

Last week the Court of Final Appeal ruled a lower court’s decision last year to grant Mr Lai bail applied “an erroneous line of reasoning”, but allowed his team to go to the High Court.

Arrested and charged in early December, Mr Lai also faces fraud charges after police raided the offices of his Apple Daily newspaper.

The tabloid and other media reported on Wednesday that, while in custody, he was arrested again on suspicion of assisting a fugitive China captured at sea last year.

The 72-year-old is one of several activists facing charges and possibly lengthy prison terms under the semi-autonomous Chinese territory’s new national security law.

In January, Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong, who is serving a 13-month prison sentence for organising and participating in an unauthorised protest in 2019, was arrested in jail on suspicion of violating the controversial national security law.

Beijing imposed sweeping new laws last June, drawing condemnation from the West and prompting several countries, including Britain, Australia and Canada, to suspend extradition treaties with Hong Kong.

Democracy activists see it as a crackdown on free speech and political dissent.

Critics say it undermines freedoms enshrined in the “one state, two systems” plan China agreed to follow when taking control of the former British colony in 1997, but supporters believe it brings much-needed stability after prolonged pro-democracy protests.

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