Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai back in custody

Hong Kong media magnate Jimmy Lai, will return to custody.

Hong Kong media magnate Jimmy Lai, will return to custody. Photo: AP

Hong Kong’s highest court has revoked media tycoon Jimmy Lai’s bail after prosecutors succeeded in asking judges to send him back to detention.

Mr Lai was charged with fraud on December 3 for allegedly violating the lease terms for office space for Next Digital, the media company he founded.

He was later charged again on December 12 under the sweeping national security law imposed by Beijing on suspicion of colluding with foreign forces and endangering national security.

Mr Lai, the most high-profile person to be charged under the new laws, had been granted bail on December 23 after three weeks in custody.

His appeal hearing is scheduled for February 1.

The Court of Final Appeal’s ruling comes a week after Mr Lai, one of Hong Kong’s most prominent democracy activists who is accused of colluding with foreign forces, was released on $HK10 million ($A1.68 million) bail along with extensive restrictions that included barring him from using social media.

Prosecutors immediately appealed against the bail decision.

Beijing imposed the legislation on the former British colony in June that critics say aims to crush dissent and erode freedoms in the semi-autonomous city – charges that authorities in Hong Kong and China reject.

Mr Lai, a critic of Beijing who had been a frequent visitor to Washington, is widely believed to be a target of the new legislation.

-with agencies

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