Hong Kong pro-democracy media mogul Jimmy Lai reported back to work at his Apple Daily office on Wednesday morning (12 Aug) following his late night release on bail, just over a day after he and other critics of China were rounded up by the police as part of a widening crackdown on dissent.
Mr Lai was among the 10 people detained under the new security law on Monday (10 Aug).
The 71-year-old owns the Apple Daily newspaper and Next Magazine, two outlets that are unapologetically pro-democracy and critical of Beijing.
As he entered the Apple Daily newsroom earlier today, Mr Lai received a warm welcome from his staff members, many of whom cheered and clapped for his return, while Next Digital CEO Cheung Kim-hung embraced Mr Lai with a hug upon seeing him.
Mr Lai expressed his appreciation to all his supporters who rushed to buy copies of Apple Daily newspaper on Tuesday (11 Aug) in a show of solidarity for him, with the pro-democracy publication saying that it had upped its print run to 550,000 from its normal circulation of 70,000.
Hong Kongers even showed their support by buying shares in his media company, sending its stock value soaring.
In a Facebook live broadcast by Apple Daily earlier, Mr Lai was seen telling his staff to continue fighting and not let the Hong Kong citizens down.
“Fight on! Let’s fight on,” he said. “We have the support of the Hong Kong people. We can’t let them down.”
When asked about other media members potentially being the next target under the new security law, Mr Lai said that every media will have to keep on fighting even though times are hard for those in the media industry nowadays.
He added that the support from the members of public are also important for them to keep going.
At the end of video, he jokingly remarked, “Luckily I was not sent back to the mainland.”
Mr Lai was apprehended on Monday under a new national security law for colluding with foreign forces, deepening a crackdown on democracy supporters.
The operation, hailed by Beijing, quick to declare him an “anti-China rabble-rouser” who conspired with foreigners to “stir up chaos”.
The office of his pro-democracy company, Apple Daily, was also raided by the police following his arrest.
Among the others arrested were two of Mr Lai’s sons, young pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow and Wilson Li, a former activist who works as a freelancer for Britain’s ITV News.
Ms Chow was released on bail late Tuesday.
“It’s very obvious that the regime and the government are using the national security law to suppress political dissidents,” she told reporters after her release.