Hong Kong police arrest Apple Daily columnist under security law, says media

Darnell Taylor
June 23, 2021

Police detained the five editors and executives on suspicion of colluding with foreign forces to endanger national security, and said they had found more than 30 newspaper and online articles that allegedly called on foreign countries or institutions to place sanctions on Hong Kong and China.

Two of the five people arrested last week have also been charged with collusion with foreign countries.

Police, which typically do not disclose the names of those arrested, said they arrested a 55-year-old man on those charges.

Board members of Next Digital Ltd., the newspaper's publisher, met on Monday and set a Friday deadline to decide whether to close down operations, Apple Daily reported.

It said the decision was "based on employee safety and manpower considerations".

The trial of the first person charged under the national security law in Hong Kong begins on Wednesday, nearly a year after he was charged with driving his motorbike into officers during a rally while carrying a flag with a protest slogan.

The police operation against Apple Daily drew criticism from the UK, US and European Union, which said Hong Kong and Chinese authorities are targeting the freedoms promised to the city when the former British colony was returned to the control of Beijing in 1997.

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Those three are still under investigation but were released from police detention.

Owned and operated by the brash apparel magnate Jimmy Lai, Apple Daily made little effort to hide its editorial stance supporting democracy and Hong Kong's continued autonomy, which was guaranteed for 50 years under the handover agreement signed by Britain and China.

Police have said dozens of Apple Daily articles were suspected of violating the national security law, the first case in which authorities have cited media articles as potentially violating the legislation.

Footage showed his motorbike was flying a flag that read "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times", a popular protest slogan now deemed illegal under the security law.

A man accused of driving a motorcycle into police officers while carrying a Hong Kong protest flag has become the first person to stand trial under the national security law implemented past year as China's central government tightened control over the city.

The city's chief executive, Carrie Lam, warned in a press conference Tuesday that news organizations must not "subvert" the government and urged journalists to conduct only "normal journalistic work". Secretary for Security will handle in accordance with the law any application related to the frozen property.

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