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Hong Kong media tycoon faces charges under China's national security law

Hong Kong media tycoon faces charges under China's national security law

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai was charged under China's new national security law on Friday, part of a broader crackdown on activists by police.

Lai, a staunch supporter of pro-democracy movements in Hong Kong who has been critical of the government in Beijing, was charged on suspicion of colluding with foreign forces and endangering national security, CNN reported.

He is considered one of the most high-profile individuals to be charged under the controversial law imposed in June. Penalties for his charges could amount to life in prison.

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Lai, 73, was arrested in April over participation in illegal protests, and again in August for allegedly colluding with foreign powers. After being released on bail in August, Lai said his arrest was meant to be a symbol to stoke fears among pro-democracy supporters.

In October, more than 200 law enforcement officers raided the newsroom of his pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily.

While in custody for nearly 40 hours following his August arrest, authorities presented evidence of Lai participating in international media interviews calling for China to be sanctioned. Under the national security law, Lai's appearance on international media channels could be considered collusion with a foreign force. However, Lai dismissed Beijing's accusations against him, saying they are "not very serious."

Lai is currently in custody after having been denied bail this month over separate fraud charges.

Since the national security law took effect in June, dozens of people have been arrested over charges related to national security policy violations.

Bloomberg News reported Friday that one of its staffers in Beijing was detained by authorities over suspicion of endangering the national security law.