Jimmy Lai, a pro-democracy activist and media entrepreneur, Tuesday was found guilty of fraud charges in a Hong Kong district court. Lai also faces charges of collusion under Hong Kong’s National Security Law and sedition. Lai is already serving a prison sentence in Hong Kong for his participation in a vigil commemorating the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre
Lai was charged with two counts of fraud. Prior to his arrest, Lai owned and operated Next Digital which published Apple Daily, a pro-democracy newspaper. The fraud charges originated with the fact that Lai subletted a portion of the Apple Daily building to another firm also controlled by Lai. The court found that the subletting agreement was in violation of various lease agreements.
Chinese state media described Lai as a “riot instigator.” In August 2020, following the imposition of the controversial National Security Law, Hong Kong authorities arrested Lai and other protestors at Apple Daily’s headquarters. Apple Daily officially closed in 2021 following two raids by Hong Kong authorities.
Lai is currently serving a 20-month prison sentence for several 2021 charges, including “unauthorized assembly,” along with 25 other pro-democracy protestors. Lai was also charged with colluding with foreign or external forces under the National Security Law, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Lai pled not guilty to the collusion charge.