Science

Hong Kong police arrest Apple Daily editors and executives

Hong Kong police arrest Apple Daily editors and executives”

The European Union and Britain on Thursday said a police raid on Hong Kong's pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily showed that China was using a new national security law to crack down on dissent and silence the media rather than deal with public security.

Apple Daily said Thursday that the company's CEO Cheung Kim Hung, COO Chow Tat Kuen and chief editor Ryan Law, along with the deputy chief editor and online editor were all arrested and accused of colluding with foreign forces to endanger national security - a provision of the sweeping legislation introduced previous year that banned sedition, secession and subversion against Beijing. They may appear in court as soon as Saturday.

Police said the five executives were arrested for collusion with a foreign country or external elements "to endanger national security".

Apple Daily is owned by Jimmy Lai, who is already in jail for a string of other protest-related charges while awaiting trial in a national security case. Authorities also arrested Chief Operating Officer Royston Chow and deputy editors Chan Pui-man and Cheung Chi-wai. This marks the first time that authorities have cited media articles as potentially violating the national security law.

Editor-in-chief Ryan Law and four directors were detained on suspicion of colluding with foreign forces under the controversial national security law, which was imposed by Beijing last summer following the mass pro-democracy protests of 2019.

"As a former journalist I am appalled at today's attack on the free press in Hong Kong".

The U.S. and Japan also spoke out about the arrests.

More than 200 police officers were involved in the search of Apple Daily's offices, and the government said a warrant was obtained to look for evidence of a suspected violation of the national security law.

More news: Teen Who Recorded Floyd's Arrest, Death Wins Pulitzer Nod

A shadow of fear has hung over the newsroom since Lai's arrest with reporters and executives fearing further police action was in the works.

Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai is now serving a 20-month prison sentence for his role in unauthorised assemblies in 2019, during a period when Hong Kong saw massive anti-government protest calling for universal suffrage and democratic freedoms.

In a subsequent news conference, Secretary for Security John Lee said police were targeting a conspiracy involving companies promoting illegal messages "in the name of the press", not normal media operations.

The raid was carried out under a national security law passed in June 2020 by the government in Beijing.

The law has been used to arrest over a hundred pro-democracy figures since it was first implemented in June past year. He said that was an important part of press freedom.

Speaking with AFP last month, chief editor Law admitted the paper was in "crisis" since Lai's jailing but said his reporters were determined to press on with publishing.

Beijing's top official representatives in Hong Kong, known as the Liaison Office, called the police operation "an act of justice" on its official Weibo account. But it promised to continue its reporting.

Trading in shares of Next Digital was halted Thursday morning at the request of the company, according to filings with the Hong Kong stock exchange.



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