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Hong Kong High Court bars media tycoon from travelling to US citing COVID-19 risk

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Hong Kong

The Hong Kong High Court has barred founder of pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily Jimmy Lai from travelling to the United States, citing a risk that the 72-year-old media tycoon may contract coronavirus and derail judicial proceeding.

According to Hong Kong Free Post, the judgment released on Thursday came as Lai is accused of criminal intimidation. He is alleged to have threatened to harm a man, identified only as “X,” with the intention to alarm him, at the Tiananmen massacre vigil in 2017.

The travel restriction was imposed as one of the conditions for granting him bail. The judgment comes at a time when the Chinese government is moving swiftly to implement the Hong Kong security legislation.

The legislation has sparked domestic protests and was received with international criticism despite both Beijing and Hong Kong’s leadership maintaining that they have the full right to implement it.

Judge of the Court of First Alex Lee wrote in his ruling that he was “unable to be satisfied” with the necessity of the proposed trip due to its lack of urgency and the use of video conferencing.

“The travel restriction to a certain extent limited his freedom of movement, but not his personal liberty in Hong Kong,” he said.

He wrote that the court should adopt a “holistic” view that took into account charges faced by Lai in separate proceedings, including organising an unauthorised assembly and taking part in an unauthorised assembly.
Lai’s trial for the charge of criminal assault is set to begin on August 19.

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