The Hong Kong government said Friday it has frozen assets belonging to media mogul Jimmy Lai in relation to his alleged breaches of the national security law.
The government's Security Bureau said in a statement that subject to the freeze are Lai's holding of shares in Next Digital Ltd. -- the media group founded by Lai that publishes the outspoken Apple Daily newspaper -- and property in the bank accounts of three companies held by him.
A prominent anti-China, pro-democracy activist, Lai has drawn special scrutiny from Beijing. He is currently serving a 14-month prison sentence over his involvement in two unauthorized protests in August 2019.
Lai has also been charged with colluding with foreign forces in breach of the territory's national security law.
The secretary for security "directs that relevant persons and organizations must not, directly or indirectly, deal with certain property which is reasonably suspected to be related to offenses endangering national security," the statement reads.
Next Digital CEO Cheung Kim-hung said in an Apple Daily report that the group's and the Apple Daily's operation and finances are "not affected" by the asset freeze.
Lai holds a 71.26 percent stake in the media group, according to the newspaper.
Hong Kong authorities have for years tried to stifle the outspoken daily. Growing financial pressure from a shortfall in advertising revenue is forcing the group to end the paper publication of its sister paper in Taiwan next Tuesday.