Jimmy Lai is not like most businessmen. Lai – whose personal wealth is estimated at $1 billion – has been fighting for a long time. Through his roster of publications including Apple Daily, he has championed free speech and, last summer, he led from the forefront of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement. Naturally, his participation was not without repercussions; following the protests, Lai was arrested in August on suspicion of “collaborating with foreign forces”, a charge Beijing was able to bring against him in the wake of a national security law imposed on Hong Kong following the unrest. Upon his arrest Lai was filmed being marched from his house in handcuffs. Later, he was put through a ‘perp walk’ in the offices of his own newspaper.
Speaking to the BBC, Lai – an important figure in the pro-democracy movement due to his vocal support – told reporters he believed his arrest was “just the beginning” and warned other protestors to be careful. “This scene in a city that has long been a beacon of press freedom in Asia shocked many Hong Kongers — and that was probably the point,” writes Ravi Mattu, who met Lai for the Financial Times. “For Beijing, Lai’s arrest was a signal that no one who challenged its authority was beyond reach.”
Out on bail at the time of the interview with Mattu, Lai, 73, claims the police treated him “quite politely”, even allowing him to take a bath while in custody. Nine other activists were arrested alongside Lai, including two of his sons on what Lai claims are “bogus charges”
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