Hong Kong Publisher Jimmy Lai Is Arrested Under National Security Law

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HONG KONG — The Hong Kong police on Monday arrested seven people, including Jimmy Lai, the media tycoon and critic of the Chinese Communist Party, on charges of violating the territory’s new national security law.

Mr. Lai’s arrest makes him the most high-profile target of the sweeping legislation imposed by Beijing. It also highlighted concerns that the new security law would be used to silence critical voices and curb the city’s freewheeling press as part of a broader move against democracy advocates.

Mr. Lai’s company, Next Digital, publishes Apple Daily, a fiercely pro-democracy newspaper that regularly takes on the Hong Kong government and the Chinese leadership. He is often denounced by Chinese officials, pro-Beijing news outlets in Hong Kong and China’s state-run news media.

The newspaper livestreamed video footage of more than 100 police officers turning up in force and raiding Next Digital’s headquarters on Monday morning. Officers were seen rifling through papers on journalists’ desks as Mr. Lai and the company’s chief executive, Cheung Kim-hung, were led through the offices in handcuffs. Officers cordoned off Mr. Lai’s office and several reporters’ cubicles for searches, photos shared on social media showed.

Apple Daily reported that Mr. Lai, 72, was being investigated on charges of collusion with a foreign country or external elements. Mark Simon, a senior executive with Next Digital, said that Mr. Lai’s two sons had also been arrested. They were being investigated for violations of the company business code. He noted that Mr. Lai’s sons were not affiliated with Apple Daily, which suggests that the authorities were investigating Mr. Lai’s private investments. A number of senior Next Digital employees were also being questioned at their homes, Mr. Simon said.

When a reporter asked Mr. Lai about the arrest and the raid, he replied, “How should I think about it?”

Radio Television Hong Kong, a government-funded broadcaster that has drawn fire for its aggressive coverage of the police, said on Monday that its reporters had been temporarily blocked from a police briefing at the scene. RTHK said it had been told by the authorities that news outlets that had obstructed the police in the past were not allowed to attend. The information could not be independently verified. Much of the area surrounding Apple Daily’s headquarters were cordoned off and journalist access restricted.

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