Hong Kong media tycoon says arrest was meant to intimidate

Hong Kong media tycoon says arrest was meant to intimidate

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai was released on bail Wednesday after being arrested and held by authorities on suspicion of conspiring with a foreign country or entity, a move he said aimed to stoke fears among those supporting pro-democracy efforts.

Lai, 71, is the founder of Next Digital media group, which operates as the pro-democracy Apple Daily tabloid. He was arrested Monday and was held in jail for 36 hours, The Associated Press reported.

"There were 15, 20 policemen there, and they said I was under arrest and that they were from the national security department," the media tycoon recounted in a live-streamed video chat Thursday.


The arrest serves as one of the highest-profile detentions under the new national security law that took effect in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory in late June.

Hong Kong has long presided under the "one country, two systems" political framework, but the new national security law allows some cases to come under mainland China's jurisdiction.

Lai said his primary fears were relieved when he realized the officers arresting him were not taking him to the mainland.

"I kind of settled down a little bit because … I knew that I wouldn't be sent to China at least," he said.

Following Lai's arrest, he was taken to his personal yacht and his office while police searched for evidence pointing towards foreign collusion.

"A lot of the time I was sitting there waiting," he said, adding that he was surprised the arrest came so soon due to the strong pushback the national security law has faced in Hong Kong.


"If I knew that I will end up here or eventually in prison, would I have changed myself in other way? I thought about it, and I said no, because this is my character," Lai said. "This is the way I react to things. My character is my destiny."

Lai's media group was a supporter of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong last year, although he has not played a role in the movement for several years. 

On Tuesday, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiVaccinated lawmakers no longer required to wear masks on House floor Simmering Democratic tensions show signs of boiling over Pelosi signals no further action against Omar MORE (D-Calif.) condemned the series of arrests in Hong Kong, calling it a "disturbing situation."