The Wall Street Journal reports police arrested Mr. Lai along with two of his sons and four employees of his publishing company, according to Mark Simon, an executive at the firm. In response to a query, the Hong Kong Police Force said seven people were arrested on suspicion of violating the security law.
The arrest of the Hong Kong media baron is by far the most significant under the new national security law. Mr. Lai is a towering figure in Hong Kong and his newspaper was a thorn in the side of the city’s pro-Beijing leadership during the months of massive peaceful protests and violent clashes with police that rocked Hong Kong last year.
Last year, he traveled to Washington to meet with U.S. officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, to speak about Hong Kong, an activity that would now likely breach the security law’s foreign collusion statutes, although the law is explicitly not retroactive.
Over the past year, Hong Kong became an increasingly volatile flashpoint in U.S.-China relations that were already strained over issues like trade, information security, human rights and the militarization of the South China Sea.