Dec 23, 2020 - World

Hong Kong pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai released on bail

Picture of Jimmy Lai surrounded by security officials

Photo: Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai was granted bail on Wednesday, almost two weeks after the pro-democracy activist was charged on suspicion of "colluding with foreign forces" under Hong Kong's draconian national security law, his news outlet Apple Daily reports.

Why it matters: Lai is the most high-profile figure to be charged under the law, and the first to be granted bail, per Apple Daily.

  • Lai had previously been denied bail twice — two weeks ago, after he was charged under the national security law, and earlier this month when he was arrested on allegations of fraud.

The state of play: Lai was freed on a HK$10 million ($1.3 million) bail, per Apple Daily. He will be required to surrender all travel documents and is prohibited from speaking to the press, using social media and meeting with foreign officials.

  • Lai will be placed under house arrest and will have to report to police three times a week.
  • The Hong Kong Department of Justice is appealing the decision, according to Apple Daily.

The big picture: The implementation of the law, under which dozens of people have been charged, has "resulted in a wave of self-censorship," Axios' Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian notes.

  • The national security law includes broad definitions of crimes — specifically on secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion — allowing for the Hong Kong government to freely implement the law without any specific oversight.

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