HONG KONG: A Hong Kong pro-democracy media tycoon detained under a new national security law was granted bail on Wednesday under strict conditions, including house arrest and a ban on social media posts.
Jimmy Lai, a vocal Beijing critic, is one of the highest-profile figures charged under a sweeping security law that China imposed on the financial hub over the summer in a bid to stamp out dissent.
He is accused of colluding with foreign countries by calling on overseas governments to sanction Hong Kong and China in response to its ongoing crackdown on pro-democracy activism in the city.
Lai, 73, was remanded into custody earlier this month by a dedicated national security judge sitting in a lower court.
But on Wednesday, his legal team appealed to the city’s High Court, where he was granted bail by a more senior judge picked to adjudicate national security cases.
Judge Alex Lee ordered Lai to pay a HK$10 million bond (US$1.3 million) and imposed a number of other conditions.
He must remain at home, surrender all travel documents and hold no meetings with foreign officials or foreign institutions deemed to be hostile to China.
Lai was also banned from posting on social media, issuing statements or speaking to the media.
Court rules restrict the press from detailing legal arguments made by prosecutors and the defence during a bail hearing.
Lai’s Apple Daily newspaper has previously reported that the bulk of the prosecution’s case against him revolves around tweets and interviews he has given to the media since the national security law was imposed in late June.