The owner of Apple Daily, a media outlet openly critical of the Chinese Communist Party, is back in jail, his bail from a December arrest revoked Dec. 31.
The media tycoon, with close family and business ties to Niagara-on-the-Lake, was out on bail earlier this year, and arrested again on Aug. 10, taken from his home in Hong Kong. Granted bail from that arrest, he remained free until Dec. 2, when he was arrested again. Although allowed bail on Dec. 23, he was ordered back to prison on Dec. 31, after the government’s appeal to his release.
An Associated Press account of his return to prison said it was argued that the judge’s decision to grant bail could have been erroneous, and therefore invalid.
Hong Kong judiciary had said he was granted bail because there was no flight risk, and that Lai was willing to have his movements monitored.
A pro-democracy activist who has taken to the streets in protest, Lai’s most recent charges have been for allegedly violating the lease terms for office space for the Next Digital, the media company he founded, and under the new national security law, of suspicion of colluding with foreign forces and endangering national security.
Associated Press reports his bail conditions included surrendering his travel documents and a ban on meeting with foreign officials, publishing articles on any media, posting on social media and giving interviews.
Lai had recently resigned as chairman and executive director of Next Digital, which runs his Apple Daily newspaper, “to spend more time dealing with these personal affairs,” the Associated Press reports.
Lai is the owner of Vintage Hotels, which includes the Pillar and Post, the first hotel to be taken over and managed for a time by his twin sister, Si Wai Lai, a Niagara-on-the-Lake resident. Vintage Hotels also includes the Prince of Wales, Queen’s Landing, and other properties in NOTL and Ontario.
Si Wai now runs the Oban Inn, also owned by her brother.
Lai has been known to have visited Niagara-
on-the-Lake with his family often, and has been described by his NOTL family as a kind man, a calm person, and passionate about his beliefs.
About his most recent arrest, his niece Erica Lepp says, “we’re of course praying for my uncle every day.”
Lai was chosen one of Time Magazine’s top 100 influential people in 2015.
In December 2020, Lai was given a Freedom of Press Award by Reporters Without Borders for his role in founding Apple Daily.