Protest in Hong Kong (Image source: Studio Incendo/Hong Kong Free Press)

The founder of Hong Kong Next Digital, Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, has been arrested by Hong Kong police on Friday morning (28 February) under the charge of illegal assembly and intimidating journalists.

Hong Kong police arrived at Mr Lai’s house at Ho Man Tin, Hong Kong at 7.30 am local time to pick him up and take him to Kowloon police station for further investigation, the state media reported.

It was noted that Mr Lai, a renowned Hong Kong media tycoon, will be required to record a statement on the accusation of joining an illegal assembly on 31 August 2019, and will be prosecuted over the offence of intimating a journalist back in June 2017.

At the same time, two other pro-democracy politicians, Lee Chuk Yan and Yeung Sum, have also been arrested by the police on the same charge of joining an illegal assembly. This was confirmed by a media executive of Next Digital, Mark Simon.

Mr Simon wrote in his Twitter, “These men are not in anyway a flight risk. They need to be processed quickly and out of that police station as quickly as possible.”

The “illegal assembly” which was held on 31 August last year in Kowloon, as reported by South China Morning Post, claimed to be a religious gathering of Christians praying for Hong Kong “sinners” and therefore would not require police approval for holding an assembly.

The police were accused of using excessive force while arresting protesters at the railway station.

According to Duetsche Welle East Asia correspondent William Yang, the arrest operation targeted those who were accused by the police of participating in the “illegal assembly”.

“This is the latest move from the Hong Kong government to crack down on the anti-government demonstration that started last June, and stretched for over 7 months until the coronavirus outbreak put it on hold,” Mr Yang said.

More than 7,000 people have been arrested by Hong Kong authorities during the pro-democracy protest – which engulfed the city for seven months. However, the rallies drew its final curtain as the threat of coronavirus outbreak emerged.

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