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Jimmy Lai has been accused of offences under the national security law. Photo: EPA-EFE

National security law: Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai to stand trial in High Court accused of colluding with foreign forces

  • Apple Daily founder faces charges of colluding with foreign forces, conspiracy to collude with foreign forces, and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice
  • Lai, 73, to be tried in the Court of First Instance, where the maximum sentence is life in prison
Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying will stand trial in the High Court, where the maximum sentence is life in prison, for allegedly breaching the national security law by colluding with foreign forces.

Chief Magistrate Victor So Wai-tak on Tuesday ordered Lai to return to West Kowloon Court on July 27 for committal proceedings to transfer his case to the higher Court of First Instance for trial, upon the prosecutors’ request.

Lai did not apply for bail from So, a magistrate designated to handle national security law cases. 

Under the Beijing-imposed legislation, foreign collusion is punishable by a prison term of not less than three years but not more than 10 years, while a grave offence carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. 

Jimmy Lai cannot challenge Apple Daily search warrants, court rules

The 73-year-old founder of Next Digital, which owns the Apple Daily tabloid, faces three counts in this national security case: colluding with foreign forces, conspiracy to collude with foreign forces, and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Prosecutors alleged that Lai used his social media platform and the Apple Daily newspaper, and conspired with Mark Simon, an American who was Lai’s right-hand man, Chan Tsz-wah, a legal assistant, activist Andy Li Yu-hin and a man called Lau Cho-dick, to call for foreign sanctions. 

Lai was also accused of conspiring with Chan and Li to arrange the latter’s escape, between July and August last year. 

Li was among 12 Hong Kong fugitives detained in mainland China last year after the Chinese coastguard intercepted them as they tried to flee to Taiwan. Eleven faced charges over the 2019 anti-government protests at the time of their escape, while Li had been arrested but not charged.
Jimmy Lai arrives at West Kowloon Court. Photo: Winson Wong

Li was returned to Hong Kong in March with seven others after serving time in jail on the mainland. Two underage suspects were returned last year to Hong Kong police.

The activist has been charged with conspiracy to assist offenders, conspiracy to commit collusion with foreign forces under the national security law, and possession of ammunition without a licence.

Meanwhile, Chan, the paralegal, has also been accused of conspiring with others to request that foreign countries impose sanctions or a blockade, or engage in other hostile activities against Hong Kong or the mainland.

The cases of Li and Chan are also slated for the High Court.