A judge in Hong Hong Kong has granted pro-democracy media magnate Jimmy Lai release on bail but under strict guidelines. including no social media.
Lai will have to follow an extensive set of restrictions that bar him from using social media, giving statements to the press, or leaving his home.
Lai, who is 73, has been one of Hong Kong’s most vocal voices speaking out against China’s authoritarian government. He was charged earlier this month under Hong Kong’s new, sweeping national security law that was imposed in June to put an end to months of pro-democracy protests. Lai was accused of colluding with foreign entities, a move which his supporters called an aggressive and blatant attempt to quiet him.
The judge granted his release Wednesday. His release was unexpected in that he had already been denied bail twice this month. The Hong Kong government appealed the judge’s decision to release Lai, but that appeal was denied.
Supporters and allies of Lai’s are concerned by the broad implications of the terms of Lai’s bail, but some believe they are born out of the sweeping nature of the new national security law itself.
Senia Ng, an attorney and member of the pro-Democracy Democratic Party in Hong Kong told the New York Times, “The problem here is the national security law offense is worded very broadly, so much so that any sort of activity can come within it — and particularly speech. This basically empowers the court to impose very broad and far-reaching bail conditions.”
Mr. Lai will return to the court in April.