The Hong Kong police arrested senior editors and executives of a newspaper belonging to the pro-democracy tycoon Li Zhiying. This is the first time that Hong Kong’s national security laws have been used directly against journalists.
“Apple Daily” said that early Thursday, at least 100 police officers raided its office, instructed reporters at work to register their identities and prevent them from filming raids or going to their desks. Instead, reporters were told to gather in a separate part of the building.
The police stated that the raid was aimed at collecting “evidence of suspected violations of the National Security Law.” They used search warrants to search and confiscate news materials.
After the anti-government protests in Hong Kong in 2019, China introduced a strict new national security law about a year ago to quell dissent.
The law has paved the way Suppress Regarding civil liberties in the city, large-scale arrests of political activists and targeting anyone deemed unfaithful to Beijing, such as School teacher with judge.
Although Thursday’s arrest is not the first Against the media During the crackdown, this was the first time the authorities had invoked security laws in an operation against journalists.
The security law, which punishes crimes such as subversion and collusion with foreign elements, carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
According to the newspaper, those arrested on Thursday included Ryan Law, editor-in-chief of Apple Daily, and online editor Nick Cheung. Next Digital CEO Zhang Jinxiong, COO Royston Chow and co-publisher Chen Peiwen were also detained.
The police stated that they “arrested five directors of a company” under the Security Law on charges of “colluding with foreign countries or harming national security with external factors”.
Hong Kong Police Commissioner Tang Yingnian issued a signal to suppress the news, calling for “Fake News” Act Reporters worry that this will give the authorities greater powers to supervise the media.
He specifically pointed to the Apple Daily, a popular tabloid known for its willingness to confront and criticize the government, which may be the target of further action by the police.Newspaper is Was checked in August last year.
Critics claim that the National Security Law has weakened the freedom of speech and other rights that Hong Kong people promised when they seized Hong Kong territory from Britain in 1997.
A reporter from Next Media said that employees were “mentally prepared” for the arrest of the senior editor, but were shocked by the scale of the police raid. “This completely overwhelms press freedom,” they told the Financial Times.
“If the “Apple Daily” is lost, I am really worried about Hong Kong people… Other newspapers will be afraid to cover sensitive topics.”
Although the freezing of Lai’s assets caused attacks and financial uncertainty, the newspaper vowed to continue publishing.
Next Digital announced the suspension of stock trading on Thursday.