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UPDATE 1-Hong Kong tycoon Jimmy Lai denied another bid for bail in national security case

Jessie Pang
·2 min read

By Jessie Pang

HONG KONG, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Hong Kong's High Court deniedanother bail application on Thursday to media tycoon and Beijingcritic Jimmy Lai, the most high-profile person to be chargedunder the Chinese-ruled city's national security law.

The Court of Final Appeal ruled last week that a lowercourt's decision last year to grant him bail applied "anerroneous line of reasoning," but allowed Lai's team to make anew application for bail to the High Court.

The High Court said it will publish its reasons forrejecting Thursday's application at a later date.

Under the new law, the onus is on the defendant to provethey would not be a national security threat if released onbail. Under Hong Kong's common law-based legal system, the onushas traditionally been on the prosecution to prove its case.

Lai has been in custody since Dec. 3, except for when he wasreleased for about a week last year before his bail was appealedby the prosecutors and subsequently overturned.

He was arrested in August when about 200 police officersraided the newsroom of his Apple Daily tabloid newspaper.

The tabloid and other media reported on Wednesday that Lai,while in jail, had been arrested again, on suspicion ofassisting a fugitive China captured at sea last year.

Beijing imposed the national security law on the formerBritish colony last June after months of pro-democracy protests.The law punishes anything China considers subversion, secession,terrorism or collusion with foreign forces with up to life inprison.

Critics say it is aimed at crushing dissent and it erodesfreedoms in the semi-autonomous financial hub. Its supporterssay it restores stability after months of unrest.

Prosecutors have accused Lai of breaching the law overstatements he made on July 30 and Aug. 18, in which they allegehe requested foreign interference in Hong Kong's affairs.

Lai has been a frequent visitor to Washington, meeting withofficials, including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, torally support for Hong Kong democracy, prompting Beijing tolabel him a "traitor".

Lai stepped down last year as chairman of Next Digital, which publishes Apple Daily.(Writing by Marius Zaharia; Editing by Angus MacSwan)