Jimmy Lai said he was surprised to be arrested so quickly, and said there was “a great disturbance” between the Chinese and Hong Kong authorities about how the territory’s national security laws were handled.
The 71-year-old media mogul and prominent pro-democracy figure were arrested Monday, on suspicion of committing foreign collusion in violation of Beijing̵7;s national security laws and conspiracy to deceive.
Nine others were also arrested, including his two sons and four senior executives at his Next Digital Media company, the publisher of Apple Daily, Hong Kong’s largest daily tabloid. In addition, Agnes Chow, a young democracy activist, was also arrested for alleged collusion with foreign countries.
During his weekly live stream from Apple Daily, Lai said on Thursday that he was expected to be arrested under the law that went into effect June 30, but it was surprising that things happened so quickly in when the attention of the world is still on Hong Kong.
“I think China, with a strong response from the international community… in enforcing its national security law, I think it will keep a humble attitude to ensure the international community is comfortable with this. There, investors, traders … that national security law defused everything and we didn’t do anything, ”he said.
“But maybe superiors and subordinates don’t coordinate. It just showed me that maybe the regime is in great trouble because they don’t coordinate.
When the law was enforced, the authorities of Hong Kong and Beijing were adamant that it was only used to target a small minority, and would not affect people’s lives and freedoms. They have also worked hard to reassure the foreign business community that there is no need to leave the international financial center.
Since its execution, about 30 people have been arrested on charges including pro-independence flags, and schools and libraries have been ordered to remove the “subversion” documents from shelves. Pro-democracy politicians were excluded from elections, and media organizations downgraded interviews with dissidents.
Chinese newspaper Ming Pao on Thursday reported that public broadcaster RTHK deleted a recorded discussion which included Nathan Law, a former lawmaker and activist who fled to Britain, and who was police wanted. national security law.
Lai also said he was less afraid of being relocated to the mainland, which has jurisdiction over more serious-rated crimes, because the entire detention team is Hong Kong and doesn’t speak mainland language, he says.
The new police force set up under the national security law has been kept secret, but Lai said he doesn’t think he has met anyone from mainland China.
“They are both Hong Kong police. Maybe this force received orders from China, I don’t know, but it seems that the whole team is the Hong Kong team so I don’t think they intend to send me or anyone to mainland China, ”he said.
“Maybe if they decided I did something really subversive … but by this point I rest assured I wouldn’t be sent to China.”
However, recent comments in the Chinese state media have left the possibility of transfer open. Reports say while the case is under investigation by the police department, the state security office set up by Beijing in Hong Kong may take over what is considered “complicated”.
“Since the case may involve complex foreign factors, if further evidence is difficult to investigate, the possibility of participation or even takeover of the National Security Office cannot be ruled out. Central Government in Hong Kong, ”said Beijing scholar and national security law advocate, Tian Feilong.
Lai was detained for more than 40 hours. He was frequently caught in public during that time, handcuffed by the police, including passing through the Apple Daily newsroom.
Some reports describe it as a walk, but Lai said his other moves were “not intentional”. He said they had to relocate the police stations because the electricity was cut off in this area, and then again when the fingerprint machine was not working.
Lai said international support for him and the movement “gives us the confidence to know what we are doing is right.”
“What we are doing to protect our city is the right thing to do because there are so many people supporting us.”
Additional reporting by Pei Lin Wu.