Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai was arrested on Monday “for collusion with a foreign country” under the new national security law imposed in the city by Beijing, a media report said.
Sources told the South China Morning Post (SCMP) newspaper that Lai’s two sons, and senior executives from the tabloid-style Apple Daily were also arrested in the sweeping police operation.
“He was arrested for collusion with a foreign country, uttering seditious words and conspiracy to defraud,” one of the sources told the SCMP.
Lai’s top aide, Mark Simon, who is not in the city, was also being sought by Hong Kong police, according to the source, who would not say what offence the latter was accused of committing.
The source said the city’s opposition activists were not likely to be targeted in Monday’s operation.
Meanwhiel, another source told the SCMP that of Lai’s two sons was arrested on suspicion of collusion with foreign and external forces to endanger national security, and the other was detained for conspiracy to defraud, according to another source.
The four others included Apple Daily’s CEO Cheung Kim-hung, and Chow Tat-kuen, its chief financial officer.
Chow was also arrested for collusion with foreign and external forces to endanger national security, while Cheung was arrested for conspiracy to defraud.
Police said the operation was continuing and so far arrested they had arrested at least seven people aged 39-72.
“They are suspected to be involved in offences including collusion with foreign and external forces to endanger national security and conspiracy to defraud,” the force said.
“The operation is ongoing and we do not rule out more arrests.”
Lai’s arrest came two weeks after the new police unit took its first action against anti-government activists, not directly related to street protests, said the SCMP newspaper report.
On July 29, four students, aged from 16 to 21, were taken into custody on suspicion of secession under the new legislation which is aimed at punishing acts of secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces to endanger national security.
The offence carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.