Hong Kong police used comprehensive national security laws on a democratic newspaper for the first time on Thursday and arrested five editors and executives on charges of collusion with foreign countries.
Conspiring with foreign countries to impose sanctions on China and Hong Kong in response to the “key part” of the semi-autonomous Chinese city’s suppression of civil liberties. “Apple Daily” often criticized the Chinese and Hong Kong governments for tightening control of the city and rejected Beijing’s promise to retain its freedom when Britain handed over Hong Kong in 1997.
Apple Daily Jimmy Lai is currently serving 20 months in prison. Sentenced to jail in 2019 for participating in an unauthorized assembly. During the large-scale anti-government protests in Hong Kong demanding universal suffrage and democracy and freedom, the police also froze 18 million Hong Kong dollars (US$2.3 million) in assets of three Hong Kong companies associated with Apple Daily, said Li Guihua, Senior Superintendent of Hong Kong’s Department of Homeland Security.
More than 200 police officers participated in the search of the Apple Daily office. The government said it had obtained a court order to find evidence of alleged violations of the national security law.
Those arrested include “Apple Daily” editor-in-chief Luo An’an, Next Digital CEO Zhang Jin Xiong, the publisher’s chief operating officer, and two other editors. According to local media reports such as Apple Daily and South China Morning Post, Hong Kong Security Minister Li Jiarong said at a press conference that the police will investigate Apple Daily and other companies to determine whether they are involved in abetting or funding criminal activities. He said that the police’s actions against Apple Daily editors and executives had nothing to do with “normal journalism.”
“The operation aims to use jo’s daily work as a tool to endanger national security,” he said, warning people to stay away from the person under investigation because they are not “journalists.” Normal”. He said that anyone engaged in journalism in Hong Kong must abide by the law, including national security legislation.
“What I want to say here is that you must not collude with these perpetrators, do not collude with them, or you will pay. A high price,” Li said. “Stay away from them, otherwise you will only have regrets.”
Hong Kong Journalists Association Chairman Yang Zhiyuan stated at an online press conference that arrests and raids on the “Apple Daily” may have a chilling effect on society. He was concerned about the use of the National Security Law as “prosecution of media executives and reporters for publishing that is considered to constitute a national security issue.”
“Threatening reports and article weapons” expressed concern. He said that the court order allowed the police to search the Apple Daily office, which weakened the reporter’s ability to protect the material, which is vital to maintaining freedom of the press. “If the reporter is not sure about them Whether they can protect their sources of information, self-censorship will get worse,” Yang said.
“We urge the government to provide more details about the case as soon as possible to eliminate concerns about freedom of the press and freedom of speech. “Beijing’s national security legislation prohibits secession, subversion, terrorism, and foreign collusion.
Since its first implementation in June last year, the law has been used to arrest more than 100 pro-democracy activists, and it has effectively suppressed the city’s opposition. Many others fled abroad. In response, the United States imposed sanctions on Hong Kong. Chinese officials, including city leader Carrie Lam, accused them of undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy.
According to a notice from the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Next Digital’s shares were released in Zhou. Trading was suspended in the morning. The reason for the arrest was not stated.