Hong Kong business tycoon Jimmy Lai has been arrested and his newspaper offices raided by police over allegations of collusion with foreign forces.
His case is the most high-profile arrest so far under the controversial security law imposed by China in June.
Mr Lai has been a prominent pro-democracy voice and a supporter of protests that erupted last year.
Chinese state media Global Times on Monday described Mr Lai as “riot supporter” and his publications as having been “instigating hatred, spreading rumors and smearing Hong Kong authorities and the mainland for years”.
The Global Times also reported that two of his sons as well as two senior executives of Next Digital had also been arrested.
#BREAKING: Hong Kong pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai is arrested for colluding with foreign powers, a crime under the national security law. Seven are arrested in total: sources, including Cheung Kim-hung, ex-chief editor of Apple Daily @appledaily_hk . #HongKongProtestshttps://t.co/d2f0dilpq8— Ezra Cheung (@ezracheungtoto) August 10, 2020
Scores of police were also seen entering the building of his newspaper Apple Daily, searching the offices.
Police confirmed on Facebook that seven men aged 39-72 had been arrested on “suspicion of collusion with foreign forces” and other offences, but did not name Mr Lai.
Who is Jimmy Lai?
The businessman is estimated to be worth more than $1bn (£766m).
Having made his initial fortune in the clothing industry, he later ventured into media and founded the newspaper Apple Daily, which is frequently critical of Hong Kong and mainland Chinese leadership.
He has also been himself an activist against Beijing’s increasingly tight grip on the Hong Kong. In 2019 he supported the reform protests and participated in the demonstrations.
On 30 June, when the security law was passed, Mr Lai told the BBC that this “spells the death knell for Hong Kong”.
He warned that Hong Kong would become as corrupt as mainland China because “without the rule of law, people who do business here will have no protection”.
In a separate interview with the AFP news agency, Mr Lai said: “I’m prepared for prison. If it comes, I will have the opportunity to read books I haven’t read. The only thing I can do is to be positive.”