HONG KONG — Jimmy Lai, a publishing tycoon and a distinguished critic of the Chinese language Communist Get together, was charged with colluding with international forces below Hong Kong’s nationwide safety regulation, the police stated on Friday, as Beijing intensified its efforts to smother town’s faltering pro-democracy motion.
Mr. Lai is essentially the most high-profile individual to be formally charged below the safety regulation. If convicted, he may withstand life in jail.
Mr. Lai, 73, was arrested in August on suspicion of violating the sweeping safety regulation, which Beijing imposed on Hong Kong in June. The police additionally raided the headquarters of Mr. Lai’s newspaper, Apple Each day, one of many final remaining anti-Beijing publications within the metropolis.
Mr. Lai has pushed different international locations to punish China for its erosion of freedoms in Hong Kong. He traveled to the US final 12 months to meet officers together with Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. And he has referred to as for sanctions on Chinese language officers.
It’s not clear what the police say he did particularly to violate the safety regulation. As written, the regulation isn’t presupposed to be retroactive. Because it was imposed, Mr. Lai has stated that he could be extra cautious about his phrases.
Greater than two dozen others have been arrested below the measure. Tony Chung, 19, an activist who was additionally charged below the regulation, was convicted on Friday of desecrating the Chinese language nationwide flag and collaborating in an illegal meeting final 12 months. A separate trial on fees below the nationwide safety regulation trial is pending.
Mr. Lai was already in jail after being denied bail on unrelated fraud fees, a call he’s interesting. However due to the cost below the nationwide safety regulation, which grants the authorities sweeping powers to carry defendants with out bail, it’s unlikely that he’ll win launch.
The regulation additionally shifts the authorized panorama for Mr. Lai. Defendants will be tried in mainland China, the place the authorized system is considerably extra opaque than in Hong Kong.
Even when Mr. Lai is tried in Hong Kong, the safety regulation empowers town’s chief government, who is chosen Beijing, to nominate particular judges, and the trial will be held behind closed doorways.
Mr. Lai is scheduled to seem in courtroom on Saturday, the police stated.