Police raided Hong Kong media tycoon’s private offices, executive says

Jimmy Lai, chairman of Next Digital Ltd.

Media tycoon and activist Jimmy Lai said Hong Kong police raided one of his private offices, months after he was arrested under a new national security law and the newsroom of his Apple Daily newspaper was stormed.

Investigators “took away everything,” Lai told media including Radio Television Hong Kong before a court appearance today (Thursday). The Next Digital Ltd. founder said he didn’t know what officers were looking for and accused police of not acting in accordance with the law.

“I have no comments,” Lai said, according to RTHK. “I don’t know what their intention is. They wanted to collect, they wanted get something to go against me. I don’t know what it is.”

Lai faces multiple criminal investigations related to his participation in Hong Kong’s democracy movement. Thursday’s court appearance was over illegal assembly charges related to a vigil held on June 4, the anniversary of Beijing’s crackdown on activists in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

The Hong Kong Police Force said in a statement that officers from the National Security Department searched a Kwun Tong office on Thursday related to arrests made Aug. 10. Those arrested then included Lai. The statement didn’t say whose office the search warrant was for, but that “some relevant exhibits were seized for investigation and no person was arrested.”

Fourteen investigators raided the office, took documents and departed before a lawyer could arrived, Next Digital Group Director Mark Simon said earlier on Twitter. Police were “still trying to make civil disputes into criminal cases & more ominously shut off funds Mr. Lai uses to support Apple Daily,” Simon said.

Shares of Next Digital increased 10% in Hong Kong trading, after jumping as much as 38% immediately after the reports of the raid. The media company had soared more than 1,100% over two days in August as people bought the stock to show their support for Lai after his arrest.

Lai’s arrest under the sweeping new security legislation enacted by Beijing sent shockwaves through a city where the safety of basic freedoms of speech are being increasingly questioned. So did a raid by dozens of officers on his flagship paper, the Apple Daily, which was streamed on live video.

In a separate case, Lai was last month found not guilty of criminal intimidation of a reporter in 2017. The government has appealed that verdict.


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