Saturday, 31 July, 2021


Five Apple Daily newspaper directors arrested in Hong Kong

Hong Kong police arrest 5 for suspected violation of national security law Apple Daily: Hong Kong police raid offices of pro-democracy paper, make arrests
Kristine Garrett | 18 June, 2021, 13:55

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.

It was the first time Hong Kong authorities have used the law to freeze shares of a listed company's majority shareholder.

"The action targeted the use of journalistic work as a tool to endanger national security", he said.

Britain and its allies say the national security law breaches the "one country, two systems" principle enshrined in the 1984 Sino-British treaty that guaranteed Hong Kong's autonomy.

More than 100 police officers raided the newspaper's office on Wednesday morning and arrested Apple Daily Editor-in-Chief Ryan Law Wai-kwong, Associate Publisher Chan Piu-man, Apple Action News Platform Director Cheung Chi-wai, and Cheung Kim-hung, the group chief executive officer of Next Digital, the newspaper's parent company, and Royston Chow, Next Digital's chief operating officer, according to news reports.

Ahead of the start of trading in Hong Kong, Next Digital announced that trading in its shares had been suspended. "Efforts to stifle media freedom and to restrict the free flow of information not only undermine Hong Kong's democratic institutions but they also hurt Hong Kong's credibility and viability as an global hub".

Police officers gather at the lobby of headquarters of Apple Daily in Hong Kong. "We urge the government to give more details of the case as soon as possible to allay fears about freedom of the press and freedom of expression". Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai is now serving a 20-month prison sentence after being convicted of playing a role in unauthorized protests in 2019, when Hongkongers took the streets in massive antigovernment demonstrations in response to a proposed extradition law that would have allowed suspects to stand trial in China.

Those convicted of a national security crime face up to life in prison and the majority are denied bail after arrest. "Nevertheless, the staff of Apple Daily is standing firm".

The paper is owned by Jimmy Lai, who is in jail on a string of charges.

China says the security law was needed to return stability to the worldwide financial hub. He is serving a prison sentence.

Beijing has made no secret of its desire to see the paper's voice tamed, with state media routinely describing Lai as a "traitor" and a "black hand" and senior communist party officials already declaring him guilty.

Apple Daily has struggled to successfully monetise online content, with Lai writing cheques to keep the paper afloat.

Lai, 73, was among the first high-profile democracy activists arrested under the law. Others have fled overseas. The newspaper has always been one of the most outspoken defenders of Hong Kong's freedoms and in recent years has often criticized the Chinese and Hong Kong governments for walking back promises that the territory could retain those freedoms for 50 years after the former British colony was handed over to China in 1997. He said 18 million Hong Kong dollars ($2.32 million) of assets of three Next Digital subsidiaries had been frozen by authorities.

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