Hong Kong-based pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai was sent back to prison Thursday after the city’s Supreme Court appealed his bail to prosecutors.
Lai, a vocal critic from Beijing, is one of the most famous figures to be charged under a comprehensive security law that China imposed on the financial center in late June to stamp out dissent.
The 73-year-old was detained for 20 days before being given bail on Wednesday, under strict conditions such as HK $ 10 million (US $ 1.3 million) bail and all travel documents.
He was placed under house arrest and was not allowed to speak publicly, including on Twitter.
The appeals court on Thursday gave prosecutors permission to appeal the bail decision after they said a lower court judge may have made a mistake “in constructing or applying” Article 42 of the new legislation.
This article states that bail should only be given if the judge sees sufficient reason to believe that the accused will not recive the alleged crime.
“We have found that it is reasonably questionable whether the judge’s decision was wrong and that his order to allow the respondent to bail was invalid,” said a decision by the Court of Final Appeal’s Appeals Committee.
She also granted the prosecutor’s request to detain Lai pending appeal, due to be heard on February 1.
Lai is alleged to have collaborated with overseas by urging overseas governments to sanction Hong Kong and China in response to continued crackdown on pro-democracy activism in the city.
More than 1,000 of his tweets and a number of media interviews he gave have been investigated by prosecutors.
Lai was the first defendant to be given bail under the Security Act, but the prosecution rushed to the Supreme Court to appeal.
Prosecutor Anthony Chau argued that bail should not be considered in national security cases, comparing the gravity of national security violations to murder and treason.
“Usually the court cannot grant bail for such a serious crime,” Chau said in court.
China’s mouthpiece for the top People’s Daily party criticized the bail decision and threatened that Lai could be extradited to mainland China for trial.
Lai will face separate indictments of fraud and joining illegal gatherings during the massive, often violent, pro-democracy protests of 2019.
On Tuesday, the mogul resigned as chairman and chief executive officer of Next Digital, which owns the Apple Daily newspaper, which he founded three decades ago.
Lai announced his resignation “to spend more time on his personal affairs,” reported Bloomberg News, citing a statement from the media group.
China’s authoritarian leaders guaranteed that when Hong Kong was surrendered to Britain in 1997, it would retain vital freedoms and autonomy under the “one country, two systems” model.
However, in response to the unrest of recent years, a historic retreat from that promise is underway.
Since the introduction of the National Security Law, Beijing has increasingly set the tone. Expressing certain opinions can now lead to a life sentence.
(This story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)