Hong Long's crackdown on media tycoon Jimmy Lai took on deeper dimensions on Friday when the self-ruled Chinese territory froze as much as $500 million of his assets.
The frozen assets amount to as much as 70 percent of Lai's shares in his Next Digital media company and his holdings in three other companies.
Lai, who is known to be an ardent critic of China, is currently in jail. He sentenced to 14 months in prison for his participation in allegedly illegal meetings during the pro-democracy protests of 2019.
The Security Bureau of Hone Kong confirmed freezing of the assets of Lai, who owned several influential media titles in Hong Kong, like the Apple Daily. The Security Bureau did not give further details of the asset freezing.
Reports said the move marks the first time the Hong Kong authorities used the seizure powers bestowed on them under the controversial national security law, over which the pro-democracy protests erupted.
Jimmy Lai's arrest in August 2020 marked a decisive turn in the course of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. The media tycoon and his two sons were arrested under Beijing's controversial new security law. Lai was arrested over alleged collusion with foreign or external forces and violation of the national security law for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). The city officials also investigated senior executives in Lai's company Next Digital that publishes Apple Daily.