AdChoiceTV News — Hong Kong’s top court ordered media tycoon Jimmy Lai, the most high-profile person to be charged under the city’s national security law, back into custody on Thursday, saying a judge may have erred in a decision to release him on bail.
The Court of Final Appeal’s ruling comes a week after Lai, one of Hong Kong’s most prominent democracy activists who is accused of colluding with foreign forces, was released on HK$10 million ($1.3 million) bail along with extensive restrictions that included barring him from using social media.
Lai, 73, was in court. He was not immediately available for comment after the ruling but is due back in court on Feb. 1 for another appeal hearing regarding his bail, the court said.
Beijing imposed the national security legislation on the former British colony in June after months of pro-democracy protests.
Critics say it is aimed at crushing dissent and it erodes freedoms in the semi-autonomous, Chinese-ruled city – charges that authorities in Hong Kong and China reject.
Lai, a critic of Beijing who had been a frequent visitor to Washington, is widely believed to be a target of the new legislation.
Prosecutors have accused Lai of breaching the security law over statements he made on July 30 and Aug. 18, in which they allege he requested foreign interference in Hong Kong’s affairs.
In the earlier bail ruling, a High Court judge said Lai’s remarks appeared to be “comments and criticisms” rather than a request for interference.
But on Thursday, the judges questioned that earlier assessment.
“We consider it reasonably arguable in the present case that the learned judge may have erred,” the judges said in their ruling, referring to Article 42 of the security law. — via Sean Tyler Chan / AdChoiceTV News