Apple Daily says Hong Kong press freedom ‘hanging by a thread’ after five arrested in raid
Pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily said Hong Kong’s press freedom was “hanging by a thread” as it decried a raid on Thursday by national security police on its newsroom and the arrest of five executives.
“Apple Daily is suffering a targeted crackdown by the regime,” the paper wrote in a message to readers on its app. “The protection of press freedom in Hong Kong is hanging by a thread. All members of Apple Daily will stand tall and firm.”
The paper and its jailed owner Jimmy Lai have long been a thorn in Beijing’s side with unapologetic support for the financial hub’s pro-democracy movement and scathing criticism of China’s authoritarian leaders.
More than 500 officers were involved in the dawn operation which authorities said was sparked by articles Apple Daily had published “appealing for sanctions” against Hong Kong and China’s leaders.
It is the first time the content of media reporting has sparked arrests under the new security law.
Officials said the five executives were arrested for collusion with a foreign country or external elements “to endanger national security”.
“They have overall responsibility for the content, style and principles of news reporting,” senior superintendent Steve Li told reporters.
China’s Hong Kong Liaison Office said on Thursday it firmly supported what it described as the “just action” of the city’s police.
“No matter what kind of professional identity and background he has, no matter what kind of forces he is backed by, anyone who violates the Hong Kong National Security Law and other relevant laws will be severely punished,” the Liaison Office said in a statement.
Authorities also confirmed HK$18 million (US$2.3m) in Apple Daily assets had also been frozen under the security law, the first time a seizure order has been made directly against a Hong Kong media company, rather than an individual…..read more