Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai was denied bail on Thursday after he was charged with fraud and is likely to spend Christmas behind bars.
The West Kowloon Court charged Lai and two senior executives from Next Digital — Royston Chow and Wong Wai-keung — with defrauding a government-owned enterprise by breaching land-lease terms, the South China Morning Post newspaper said in a report.
Lai is the founder of Next Digital which publishes Apple Daily, a tabloid which is frequently critical of Hong Kong and mainland Chinese leadership.
With the next hearing expected on April 16, 2021, Lai could spend the next four months and 13 days in prison.
While Lai was denied bail, the court granted it to Chow and Wong.
The three men were arrested in August.
Lai was accused of “colluding with foreign forces” under the new national security law imposed on the city by China, the BBC reported.
The 72-year-old tycoon became the most high-profile person in Hong Kong to be detained under the law, and his newspaper offices were raided by hundreds of police officers.
He was later released on bail.
However, he told the BBC then the arrest was “just the beginning”.
Thursday’s development came a day after three prominent pro-democracy activists, Joshua Wong, Ivan Lam and Agnes Chow, were jailed.