Hong Kong police arrest Apple Daily directors

Eloise Marshall
June 18, 2021

According to the national security law, all institutions, organizations, and individuals in the HKSAR shall abide by the national security law and other laws of the region on safeguarding national security, and shall not engage in any act or activity which endangers national security, a spokesperson of the office said in a statement.

Hong Kong police raided a pro-democracy newspaper on Thursday and arrested five officials at the publication.

Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also said the raid was aimed at silencing dissent.

Police entered the Apple Daily office premises at around 07:30 local time on Thursday (23:30 GMT Wednesday) and blocked off all entrances and exits.

"The charges of "collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security" appear to be entirely politically motivated".

Apple Daily is known to be critical of the mainland Chinese leadership.

Hong Kong Security Minister John Lee told a news conference that police will investigate both people in the Apple Daily companies and others to establish if they have assisted in instigating or funding the offences.

Apple Daily cited a government statement on the raid, which said that the operation was conducted "with a search warrant under Article 43 (1) of the national security law, which "covered the power of searching and seizure of journalistic materials".

Mr Lee also added that they were not "normal journalists", calling on others to "keep a distance from them".

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.

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Roughly 500 police officers on Thursday descended on the headquarters of Apple Daily, which is owned by the now-jailed democracy activist and Next Digital founder Jimmy Lai.

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

As Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement gathered steam from 2014 onwards, Lai became public enemy number one to Beijing, with state media routinely describing him as a "traitor" and a "black hand".

Estimated to be worth more than $1bn (£766m), he made his initial fortune in the clothing industry and later ventured into media and founded Next Digital.

He is now facing time in jail for a series of charges, including participating in an unauthorised assembly in 2019.

According to Channel News Asia, this spike in print copies was also done when media tycoon Jimmy Lai was arrested in August previous year. The law has been used to arrest over 100 pro-democracy activists since it was first implemented in June past year, and had virtually silenced opposition voices in the city, with many others fleeing overseas. It criminalises secession, subversion and collusion with foreign forces with the maximum sentence life in prison.

China says the law was needed to return stability to the financial hub.

The handover agreement saw the creation of the Basic Law under the "one country, two systems" principle. He said that was an important part of press freedom.

Most of the executives were arrested at home but later taken to the newspaper.

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