(RepublicanInformer.com)- On Thursday, June 17, Hong Kong police raided the offices of the pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily and arrested five senior editors and executives.
The raid is the latest crackdown under Beijing’s new national security law, and the five people arrested in the raid were accused of “suspected contravention” of the law. The four men and one woman are being detained for investigation and searches of their homes were also conducted.
Hong Kong police claim they have evidence that some articles published by Apple Daily played a “crucial part” in an alleged conspiracy with foreign countries to impose sanctions on China and Hong Kong because of their crackdown on civil liberties.
Founded 26 years ago, Apple Daily is an outspoken pro-democracy publication owned by media tycoon Jimmy Lai. Lai is currently serving a prison sentence for taking part in the mass pro-democracy protests that broke out in Hong Kong in 2019.
Apple Daily, which vowed to “do its best to publish as usual” identified those arrested during the raid and that same day published articles on its website detailing the events that transpired.
Staff and journalists filmed the early morning raid then posted footage and photos online showing police sitting at computers in the newsroom, sifting through papers and taking away boxes in a van.
In an open letter to its readers, Apple Daily vowed that the staff is “standing firm.”
In a press conference after the raid, Hong Kong Security Secretary John Lee claimed the staff of Apple Daily are not “normal journalists,” but instead use the publication as a “tool to endanger” national security. Lee went on to warn reporters present not to “collude” with the Apple Daily.
In addition to the arrests made at the time of the raid, Hong Kong police also froze the financial accounts associated with the Apple Daily. According to Security Secretary Lee, the accounts totaled $18 million Hong Kong dollars ($2.3 million US) owned by three companies linked to the Apple Daily.
In a statement after the raid, the Hong Kong Journalists Association said the security law is being weaponized against the press. Human Rights Watch also condemned the action calling it a “new low” in a “bottomless assault on press freedom.”
Meanwhile, the CCP’s Hong Kong Liaison Office praised the raid as a “just action” to “maintain national security and the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.”