Jimmy Lai pleads guilty to organising unauthorised assembly

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai at the West Kowloon Magistrates' Courts in Hong Kong, in this file picture from Sept 3, 2020. - China Daily

HONG KONG (China Daily/ANN): Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying and nine others pleaded guilty Monday (May 17) to organising an unauthorised assembly on Oct 1,2019.

Other than Lai, former legislators Albert Ho Chun-yan, Lee Cheuk-yan, Leung Kwok-hung, Yeung Sum, Cyd Ho, Sin Chung-kai, and activists Figo Chan, Avery Ng and Richard Tsoi pleaded guilty in District Court to one count of organising an unauthorised assembly.

Judge Amanda Woodcock will deliver the sentences on May 28.

Lai, 73, and the founder of Apple Daily newspaper, is facing a flurry of other cases. He was sentenced in April to 14 months in prison over two separate unauthorized protests in August of 2019, when anti-government protests rocked the Asian financial hub.

He also faces charges under the National Security Law.

Late on Friday, Hong Kong's Security Bureau froze some of the media tycoon’s assets, citing Article 43 of the National Security Law.

Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu issued notices to freeze all shares of his Next Digital Ltd., as well as the local bank accounts of three companies owned by Lai, the government said in a statement. Shares of Next Digital have been suspended from trading on Hong Kong’s exchange.

The shares will remain on a trading halt ahead of a company announcement regarding the freeze in Lai's assets, including his majority stake in the firm, Next Digital said.

Next Digital runs Apple Daily.

The group's bank borrowings amounted to HK$262.3 million as of end-September, repayable within three years. Its net cash position was HK$228.7 million at the time.

Lai has a 71.26 per cent stake in Next Digital worth around HK$350 million (US$45 million) based on Friday's closing share price. - China Daily/Asia News Network

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