Jimmy Lai action keeps rolling along

Local | Sophie Hui 14 Aug 2020

Next Digital has taken legal action against the police, demanding the return of documents seized during a raid on the group's Tseung Kwan O offices on Monday.

Six writs were filed in the High Court yesterday by the group, including four companies within it - Next Digital, Apple Daily Charitable Foundation, Apple Daily and Next Media Management Services - and founder Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, chief operating officer Royston Chow Tat-kuen, chief executive Cheung Kim-hung, chief executive of Next Animation Kith Ng Tat-kwong and chief administration officer Wong Wai-keung.

They want the court to determine whether the seized materials are subject to legal professional privilege and constitute journalistic material.

They are also demanding the commissioner of police return all seized materials.

The 72-year-old Next Digital founder was arrested on Monday along with nine others on suspicion of collusion with a foreign country or external elements to endanger national security.

He also faces a charge of conspiracy to defraud.

Lai walked out of Mong Kok police station shortly after midnight on Wednesday after 40 hours in detention.

He was released on bail of HK$300,000 in cash and HK$200,000 in sureties. And around HK$50 million was also frozen in his personal and company bank accounts.

In a 40-minute Twitter live chat session yesterday Lai recalled Monday morning when a group of 15 to 20 police officers of the national security department went to his house and arrested him.

"I said, can I have a bath before I go with you.

[An officer] said: 'You have to be very fast and you can't close your door. You have the bath and we have to watch you.'

"I was aware none of the team spoke Putonghua, so I kind of settled down a bit because I knew at least that I won't be sent to China."

Despite having been arrested before, Lai said, this occasion was the first time he'd been handcuffed and detained overnight.

He went on: "We shifted police stations because at one time, when I was giving a videoed interview, all of a sudden the electricity went off. Then we had to go to another police station.

"Another time the fingerprint machine was not working so we had to go to another police station."

The media tycoon also cautioned people against buying his company's stock now, which fell 41.5 percent and closed at HK$0.38 yesterday after soaring a couple of days previously.

Lai said the surge was not sustainable.

"Initially, when I was arrested, the stock dropped, and then it went [up] like crazy. But I advise nobody should touch it it will drop back.

"But it just shows that people really support us. It gives us so much support, so much confidence, so much comfort, to be part of this community."

He also likened freedom to oxygen, saying: "The oxygen is getting thin, and we are all choking. But when we're choking we're still taking care of each other and keep resisting and keep fighting for our rule of law and freedom."

Lai also choked back tears when hearing support coming in from audience members in the United States.

"There's never been a moment in my life I felt so touched," he said. "I feel what I've done is correct, no matter what challenges I will face in the future."

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