A month after the national security law in Hong Kong took effect, the Department for Safeguarding National Security arrested Next Digital founder Jimmy Lai and his two sons for violating the national security law.
The police arrested at least seven people in today’s morning action, according to the police, for alleged collusion with foreign or external forces to endanger national security, fraud and other crimes.
Hundreds of police searched the office of Next Media and Apple Daily, both of which under Next Digital, the listed flagship of Jimmy Lai, at Tseung Kwan O. Lai, arrested to Kowloon City police station earlier, was taken to his office.
At around 7am, police entered Lai’s home with a search warrant. News quickly spread to other media outlets as they started to gather outside his home. At 9:40am, Lai, accompanied by lawyer, was arrested. Almost at the same time his second son Lai Yiu-yan was also taken from his home at Sai Kung.
Police confirmed they arrested at least nine men aged 23 and 72 for their alleged collusion with foreign or external forces to endanger national security, fraud and other crimes, stating they would not rule out for more arrests.
According to local media, Lai was said to violate the alleged collusion with foreign or external forces to endanger national security, fraud and sedition under the Law of the People's Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (National Security Law).
His elder son Lai Kin-yan was allegedly involved in the conspiracy to fraud while his second son Lai Yiu-yan was also allegedly involved with foreign or external forces to endanger national security under the National Security Law in Hong Kong.
Mark Simon, Jimmy Lai’s consigliere, said in his social media post that Lai was involved with the allegedly involved with foreign or external forces to endanger national security. He said some people in Next Digital was arrested or questioned. HK01 quoted Mark Simon was wanted by the police.
According to TVB and On.cc, Next Digital chief executive officer Cheung Kim-hung was also arrested for alleged fraud. Chief operating officer and chief financial officer Royston Chow Tat-Kuen was also arrested for allegedly involved with foreign or external forces to endanger national security and fraud.
On.cc noted Next Digital administrative director Wong Wai-keung and Next Animation general manger Ng Tat-kwong were arrested for alleged fraud.
Li Kwai-wah, senior superintendent of Department for Safeguarding National Security, said the search process was smooth. He and his fellow conducted a preliminary review at the scene “to see which units we could not search”, adding that editorial department are not included in the warrant so “they won’t go there for search”.
But based on the live broadcast and TV news, causal police staff were there to check documents in the reporter’s workstations.
Oriental Daily news previously reported Jimmy Lai was alleged for fraud because he violated the terms of the land lease for operating at least 14 independent companies. These companies all listed Jimmy Lai as directors and his second son Lai Yiu-yan for operating 10 restaurants and other companies, some of which providing company secretariat service.
Several media quoted police source said the Department for Safeguarding National Security charged Jimmy Lai and Lee Yiu-yan for violating Section 29 under the National Security Law.
There will be a minimum of three years, or no more than 10 years of imprisonment for the charge. Depends on the seriousness of the crime, it can be sentenced to more than ten years imprisonment, or even life imprisonment.