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Jimmy Lai, one of Hong Kong's most prominent pro-democracy voices, arrested under China's new national security law on Monday.
Lai, who partly owns the publisher of the critical Apple Daily newspaper, had predicted his arrest under the new law months before it came into effect, but vowed to stay and fight.
"I have feared that one day the Chinese Communist Party would grow tired not only of Hong Kong's free press but also of its free people. That day has come," he wrote in a New York Times op-ed in May.
He also tweeted at the time: "I'll fight to the end. HK is my home."
A critical Hong Kong media tycoon who was arrested on Monday under China's new national security law had predicted his apprehension months earlier, but vowed to stay in the city and fight "to the end."
Jimmy Lai, a prominent pro-democracy figure, was arrested by Hong Kong police on Monday, making him the highest-profile arrest under the city's new law and China's crackdown against the city's democracy movement.
Lai is the majority owner of Next Digital, the media company that publishes the pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper.
More than 100 Hong Kong police officers raided the company's offices and journalists' desks on Monday, the Hong Kong Free Press and The New York Times reported, with Cheung Kim-hung, Next Digital's CEO, photographed being led out in handcuffs.
Hours before that, Lai was arrested and taken from his house in Hong Kong. He was then taken to his newsroom and led through it with handcuffs on, The New York Times reported.
Apple Daily published partial footage of Monday's newsroom raid:
In an op-ed for The New York Times in May, when the new security law was first proposed by Beijing, Lai predicted that it would be used to arrest him.
"I am the chairman and majority owner of Apple Daily, one of Hong Kong's largest newspapers, and since the city's return to China in 1997, I have feared that one day the Chinese Communist Party would grow tired not only of Hong Kong's free press but also of its free people. That day has come," he wrote in the op-ed.
He said that the laws would "mark the end of free expression and many of the individual liberties so cherished in the city."
He also said that some of his tweets criticizing China's new law were condemned by the state-backed Global Times tabloid.
"I have always thought I might one day be sent to jail for my publications or for my calls for democracy in Hong Kong," he wrote. "But for a few tweets, and because they are said to threaten the national security of mighty China? That's a new one, even for me."
In one of those May tweets, he wrote that people in Hong Kong have two choices: "emigrate or stay to fight to the end. I'll fight to the end. HK is my home. We are not frightened. #FightForFreedom #StandWithHongKong."
—Jimmy Lai (@JimmyLaiApple) May 23, 2020
Steven Butler, the Asia program coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said that Lai's arrest "bears out the worst fears that Hong Kong's National Security Law would be used to suppress critical pro-democracy opinion and restrict press freedom."
"Jimmy Lai should be released at once and any charges dropped," he added.
Apple Daily reported that Lai was being investigated on charges of collusion with a foreign country or external elements. Chinese media have for years claimed that Lai and his associates were CIA agents, though Lai has repeatedly denied the accusations.
Lai was also arrested earlier this year and accused of illegally attending protests.
The New York Times reported that Mark Simon, a senior Next Digital executive, said two of Lai's sons, who are not affiliated with Apple Daily, were also arrested, and that other employees were being questioned in their homes.
Beijing imposed the new law, which allows China to set up a formal police presence in the city, on June 30.
Experts say it fundamentally changes Hong Kong, ending the democratic freedoms that have been in place in the semi-autonomous city for decades. Many democracy activists have fled the city since the law's imposition.
The maximum penalty for each crime under the law is life in prison.
The law has been met with international backlash and has been condemned by the US. Countries like the UK and Canada have ended their extradition treaties with Hong Kong, prompting retaliation from China.
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