Hong Kong Media Tycoon Jailed on Fraud Charges

Image copyright: AP

The Facts

  • A Hong Kong court on Saturday sentenced pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai to five years and nine months in prison over fraud charges. Wong Wai-Keung, administrative director of Lai's media company Next Digital, was also sentenced to 21 months in prison.

  • Lai, the 75-year-old founder of the now-defunct Apple Daily tabloid, was convicted in October of subletting office space to a company from the headquarters of Next Digital, in breach of lease agreements with the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park Corporation (HKSTP).

The Spin

Anti-China narrative

With a series of baseless charges against Lai, it's evident that the businessman is being punished for speaking out against government abuse of power, corruption, and the anti-dissent National Security Law imposed by Beijing. This latest sentence is further testimony to how far Beijing is willing to go to force Hong Kong into line with the mainland.

Pro-China narrative

Hong Kong courts have a statutory duty to enforce the rule of law, which has nothing to do with freedom of speech or the press — especially in this case, where the evidence against Lai is undeniable. Although heavily backed by the US, he isn't above the law and must be held accountable.

Metaculus Prediction

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