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Image from the St& News. Used with permission.

This is an English translation of story originally published in Chinese on The Stvà News. It is published here under a content partnership agreement.

Hong Kong pro-democracy truyền thông media tycoon Jimmy Lai could face life in prison should a court find him guilty of violating the national security law by colluding with foreign forces.

The 72-year-old founder of Next Digital, which publishes the pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper, was arrested in August when he was charged with fraud over a commercial dispute with a tenant.

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Last week, the national security police pressed an additional charge of “colluding with foreign governments,” a crime under Hong Kong's national security law.

Lai appeared in court on December 12, where his application for bail was denied.

Documents supporting Lai's collusion charge include social media posts, interviews with foreign truyền thông outlets, & meetings with foreign politicians và alleged donation to lớn an advocacy group, “St& with Hong Kong”.

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Many of those acts, however, took place before July 1, when the national security law was enacted. In June, Hong Kong's Chief Executive sầu Carrie Lam said in a pre-recorded message lớn the United Nations’ Human Rights Council that the law wouldn't be applied retroactively.

Pro-democracy activists see Lai's charge as speech-related persecution. Exiled activist Nathan Law said:

The media tycoon, democratic veteran Jimmy Lai was chained as Class A Felon when he was escorted lớn appear in court. He faces a charge of collusion with foreign elements lớn endanger national security because of his tweets và interviews. It’s a speech crime và fabricated charge.

— Nathan Law 羅冠聰