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Police in Hong Kong raid media tycoon Jimmy Lai's office: aide says

Police in Hong Kong raid media tycoon Jimmy Lai's office: aide says

Police in Hong Kong have raided media tycoon Jimmy Lai’s office, his top aide Mark Simon said on Twitter.

Simon, a senior media executive at Next Media, said that 14 police officers visited the office and confiscated documents. He said the police left before Lai’s attorney arrived, despite saying they would stay before he showed up. 

“@hkpoliceforce just raided the private offices of @JimmyLaiApple Not @appledaily_hk,” Simon said. “I spoke with police they said they would remain until our lawyer arrived. They did not, they took documents & departed before our lawyer arrived. No contacts,  no names of police provided” 

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“Purpose of raid.  Still trying to make civil disputes into criminal cases & more ominously shut off funds Mr. Lai uses to support Apple Daily,” Lai also tweeted. “By the way, this office is 600sq ft.  14 cops on raid.  So 1 cop per 42 sq ft.  Increase of popo per square ft density over Apple raid," he added.

The raid comes just before Lai is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday, where he is facing charges of joining an unauthorized assembly on June 4 after participating in a now-banned candlelight vigil marking China’s bloody Tiananmen crackdown in 1989.

The police confirmed that they had conducted a search operation inside an office in Hong Kong’s Kwun Tong district on Thursday, The Associated Press reports, and that “some relevant exhibits were seized for investigation and no person was arrested today.”

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The search operation was related to ten arrests made in August under the national security law, on suspicion of colluding with a foreign country to endanger national security and conspiracy to defraud, AP further reported. 

Lai, a pro-democracy activist, was arrested in August on suspicion of violating the Hong Kong national security law for “collaborating with foreign forces.” He was jailed for 36 hours, and then taken to his personal yacht and his office while police searched for evidence pointing toward foreign collusion. 

His arrest was one of the highest-profile detentions under the new national security law that took effect in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory in June. 

Lai is the founder of Next Digital media group, which operates as the pro-democracy Apple Daily tabloid. The group backed the pro-democracy protests throughout Hong Kong Last year, but Lai had not played a central role in Hong Kong’s democracy movement for years.