The offense was created by a new national security law imposed on the city by Beijing last month. Jimmy Lai’s business partner Mark Simon said the mogul was arrested early Monday.
Seven men across, aged between 39 and 72, were arrested, according to a police statement, on charges including collaborating with foreign forces to endanger national security and conspiring to commit fraud. The statement did not mention any individual, but a spokesman told CNN that Lai was among them and that he had been arrested on suspicion of collaborating.
“The police investigation is still ongoing, and we cannot rule out the possibility of more people being arrested,” she added.
Later Monday morning, a live stream uploaded to Facebook by Apple Daily showed police controlling the company̵7;s newsroom. A police spokesman confirmed to CNN that the agency had a search warrant to enter the Apple Daily office.
Under the new security law, which was introduced in the city by Beijing last month, the offense of collaborating with foreign forces carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Lai has strong ties to Washington and has lobbied for the United States to take a harder line on China. What he has done to oppose the law since the passage is unclear.
The Hong Kong government has defended the law as necessary to protect national security. Hassht denounced by human rights groups, the European Union and the United States as too broad and restrictive of the city’s civil liberties.
A former clothing magician, Lai founded the Apple Daily Hong Kong in 1995 – two years before Hong Kong surrendered to British control of China. Visually modeled on USA Today, the paper sparked a small revolution in the city media landscape, sparking a price war and drastically changing how rivals functioned as they struggled to keep up with Lait’s brilliant tabloid sensitivity.
While focusing on celebrity gossip and other tabloid tickets, after the newspaper submission has emerged as one of the fiercest critics of local government and Beijing. She has openly supported the pro-democracy movement and anti-government protests, printing leaflets and posters on her pages that people can cut out and take to the marches.
This took 71-year-old Lai to a prominent position within the opposition movement and made him a figure of deception for pro-Beijing politicians and media in the city.
Claimed Daily Daily – the official spokesman of the Chinese Communist Party at a time when Lai was part of a quartet of “secret mediators and modern traitors” as Beijing tried to blame Hong Kong unrest on foreign forces.
CNN’s Isaac Yee and Jenni Marsh contributed to the report.