By NICOLE KO and ZEN SO, Associated Press
HONG KONG (AP) – Hong Kong’s Supreme Court on Thursday revoked the bail of media tycoon Jimmy Lai after prosecutors were successful in asking judges to send him to custody.
Lai was granted bail on December 23 after three weeks of detention on charges of fraud and endangering national security. His appeal is heard on 1 February.
The court said on Thursday that it was “reasonably reasoned” that the previous judge’s decision was erroneous and that the bail order was invalid.
Lai is among pro-democracy activists and supporters arrested by Hong Kong police in recent months, as officials step up their crackdown on dissent in the semi-autonomous Chinese region.
The media company accused him of cheating on December 3 for allegedly violating the terms of the lease for the next location for his establishment. He was later charged again on 12 December under the Comprehensive National Security Act imposed by Beijing on suspicion of collusion with foreign forces and endangering national security.
Lai entered the Court of Final Appeals without commenting on supporters and the media, many of whom made their way to the tycoon as flocks. His bail terms included surrendering his travel documents and meeting foreign officials, publishing articles on any media, posting on social media and giving interviews.
The Chinese state-owned newspaper People’s Daily on Sunday made strict comments criticizing the court for granting bail to Lai, stating that it “badly hurt Hong Kong’s rule.”
The People’s Daily said Lai would not find it difficult to abscond, and called him “notorious and extremely dangerous”. It also warned that China could handle the matter according to Article 55 of the National Security Act, stating that China “may exercise jurisdiction over a matter that endangers national security.”
Hong Kong’s judiciary uploaded a 19-page decision on its website on Tuesday, explaining why High Court judge Alex Lee granted bail to Lai. Lee said that he was satisfied that there was no flight risk in Lai’s case, and noted that Lai was prepared to monitor his movements if it would have been a viable option.
On Tuesday, Lai resigned as president and executive director of Next Digital, according to a filing filed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. He said “to spend more time dealing with this private affairs” and confirmed that he had no disagreement with the board of directors, the filing said.
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