Hong Kong police invoke security law to arrest senior journalists

Hong Kong police have arrested senior editors and executives of a newspaper affiliated with pro-democracy magnate Jimmy Lai, in the first use of the territory’s national security law directly against journalists.

The Apple Daily said at least 100 police raided its offices early Thursday, ordering reporters who arrived for work to register their IDs and prevent them from filming the raid or going to their offices. Instead, journalists were asked to gather in a separate part of the building.

Police said the raid was to collect “evidence in a case suspected of violating the National Security Act”. They used a warrant to search and confiscate press materials.

China introduced a draconian new security law nearly a year ago to quell dissent after Hong Kong anti-government protests in 2019.

The law paved the way for repression over civil liberties in the city, with mass arrests of political activists and targeting of anyone deemed unloyal to Beijing, such as school teachers And the judges.

Thursday’s arrests were not the first Action against the media Amid the crackdown, it was the first time authorities had invoked the security law in action against journalists.

The Security Law, which punishes offenses such as sabotage and collusion with foreign elements, carries a life sentence.

Lay has already Imprisoned in a separate case so is Assets are frozenتجميدIncluding his 71 percent stake in Next Media, the company that owns Apple Daily.

Among those arrested on Thursday were Ryan Lu, editor in chief of the Apple Daily, and Nick Cheung, an online editor, the newspaper reported. Cheung Kim Hang, CEO of Next Digital, Ruston Chow, COO, and Chan Bui Man, co-publisher were also arrested.

Police said they had “arrested five company directors” under the Security Act on charges of “collusion with a foreign country or with foreign agents to endanger national security.”

Hong Kong’s police chief, Chris Tang, has signaled a crackdown on the press, and called for it Fake news laws Which journalists fear would give the authorities greater powers to police the media.

He singled out the Apple Daily, a tabloid known for its willingness to confront and criticize the government, as a potential target for further police action. was the newspaper Raided in August last year.

Critics say the Security Act has weakened rights such as freedom of speech promised to Hong Kong residents when China seized the territory from the United Kingdom in 1997.

One journalist for Next Media said the staff were “mentally prepared” to arrest senior editors, but were shocked by the scale of the police raid. “It completely bypasses press freedom,” they told the Financial Times.

“I am really concerned for Hong Kong residents if the Apple Daily is lost . . . other newspapers will be afraid to report sensitive topics.”

Despite the attacks and financial uncertainty caused by the freezing of Lai’s assets, the newspaper vowed to continue publishing.

Next Digital announced the suspension of stock trading on Thursday.

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