Hong Kong’s High Court has refused to grant bail to media mogul Jimmy Lai, who has been in custody since early December over alleged violations of the national security law.

The court rejected his new bail application on Thursday after judge Anthea Pang said there was not enough evidence that he would refrain from acts endangering national security if released.

Jimmy Lai. File photo: Kenny Huang/Studio Incendo.

Lai was briefly free after being granted bail on December 23 in the sum of HK$10 million by High Court Judge Alex Lee. He was returned to custody on New Year’s Eve after the government filed an appeal against that decision.

This month the Court of Final Appeal ruled that Lee had not made a “proper assessment” under the provisions of the national security law, saying there was a “stringent threshold requirement” for bail in such cases. But it said the 73-year-old could make another application to the High Court for bail.

The founder of the pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper had been denied bail twice previously by Chief Magistrate Victor So before the case came before judge Lee.

Lai was arrested in August last year for fraud for allegedly violating a land lease agreement and under the security law for alleged collusion with foreign forces after the headquarters of Apple Daily were raided by over 100 police officers.

Jimmy Lai (centre). Photo: Apple Daily.

He was formally charged underthe national security law in early December, accused of using Twitter and his tabloid to request foreign governments to impose sanctions on Hong Kong and mainland Chinese officials.

Lai and six former opposition lawmakers are currently on trial in a separate case: allegedly organising and taking part in an illegal protest march in August 2019.

Ahead of his bail hearing on Thursday, Lai was arrested again on Tuesday in Stanley Prison for more alleged offences – conspiring to help offenders ecape justice and another charge of collusion with foreign forces.

Lai was accused of assisting activist Andy Li in his bid to escape to Taiwan in August last year. Li was among a group of 12 activists who were arrested by the Chinese coastguard on August 23 last year while fleeing to the island by speedboat.

They were later charged by mainland authorities with illegally entering Chinese waters. Ten out of 12 were given prison sentences ranging from seven months to three years in December by a Shenzhen court.

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Candice Chau

Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.