Dec 31, 2020 - World

Hong Kong again jails pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai after release on bail

Jimmy Lai taken out in handcuffs.
Jimmy Lai in handcuffs being escorted by the guards on Dec. 12, 2020 in Hong Kong, China. Photo: Keith Tsuji/Getty Images

A Hong Kong court on Thursday ordered pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai back into custody for charges brought under the city's draconian national security law, just over a week after he was initially released on bail, Reuters reports.

The state of play: Lai is the most high-profile figure to be charged under the law. He was granted a HK$10 million ($1.3 million) bail, before the court rescinded the ruling on Thursday and said that a judge who oversaw the case "may have erred" in granting bail.

  • Lai has been accused of "colluding with foreign forces" for comments he made over the summer about Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement, which prosecutors say amount to requesting foreign interference.
  • The terms of his bail barred Lai from speaking to the press, using social media and meeting with foreign officials.

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

  • The 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.

What's next: Lai will be back in court on Feb. 1 for another appeal hearing about his bail.

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