Hong Kong pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai was arrested Monday and led in handcuffs through his newspaper office as police raided the building, part of a sweeping crackdown on dissent since China imposed a security law on the city.
Lai, 71, was among nine people detained on charges including colluding with foreign forces — one of the new national security offences — and fraud in an operation targeting his Next Digital publishing group.
It was the latest police operation against dissidents under the sweeping new law introduced at the end of June.
Two of Lai’s sons were among those detained, a police source told AFP as well as Wilson Li, a former pro-democracy activist who describes himself as a freelance videographer working for Britain’s ITV News.
The most serious national security crimes carry up to life in jail.
Journalists working at Lai’s Apple Daily broadcasted dramatic footage on Facebook of some 200 police officers conducting the raid, and the newspaper’s chief editor Law Wai-kwong demanding a warrant from officers.
Apple’s staff were ordered to leave their seats and line up so police could check their identities as officers conducted searches across the newsroom.
At one point Lai was present, in handcuffs and surrounded by officers.
Police said the search was conducted with a court warrant which was shown to staff.