HONG KONG, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Hong Kong publishing tycoon Jimmy Lai, an outspoken critic of Beijing, and two other pro-democracy activists were arrested by police on Friday on charges of illegal assembly, local media reported.
Lai, a self made millionaire who has been a major financial patron of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, was picked up by police at his house, Cable TV and TVB News reported.
Apple Daily, one of the publications under media company Next Digital in which Lai is non-executive chairman, said he was accused of participating in an illegal march on Aug. 31.
Veteran democracy activists Lee Cheuk-yan and Yeung Sum were also arrested on Friday on the same charges, Cable TV reported.
Lai, Lee and Yeung could not be reached immediately for comment.
Hong Kong police would not confirm the arrests to Reuters and said they would not comment further.
The arrests come after a period of relative calm in the Asian financial hub following months of intense anti-government protests.
Authorities in Hong Kong have arrested more than 7,000 people for their involvement in the protests, many on charges of rioting that can carry jail terms of up to 10 years. It is unclear how many are still in custody.
Public anger has grown over the months due to perceptions of China tightening its grip over the city. Beijing denies meddling and blames the West for fomenting unrest.
Lai was previously arrested in 2014 for refusing to leave a key pro-democracy protest site in the centre of the city. Following his arrest he resigned as editor in chief of Apple Daily. He has also come under scrutiny from Hong Kong’s anti-graft agency when they raided his home in 2014. (Reporting by Donny Kwok; Writing by Farah Master; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)