Police accuse five of ‘collusion with foreign forces’ in latest wave of arrests under National Security Law, with dozens of officers sent to media group’s headquarters.
Hong Kong Police arrested the editor in chief of the Apple Daily, the media group founded by jailed pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai, and four other directors, for alleged national security offences in a series of early morning raids on Thursday, as dozens of police officers blocked access to the media group’s Hong Kong headquarters.
Apple Daily confirmed Editor-in-Chief Ryan Law, Chief Executive Officer Cheung Kim-hung, Chief Operating Officer Chow Tat-kuen, Deputy Chief Editor Chan Puiman and Chief Executive Editor Cheung Chi-wai had been arrested.
They are accused of “colluding with foreign forces”.
“Reports published in the paper allegedly constituted the offence under the national security law,” the South China Morning Post quoted an unnamed police source as saying.
Local media said police arrived at the media group’s headquarters at about 7am (23:00 GMT on Wednesday) with warrants to search the premises as well as to seize “journalistic materials”.
Entrances and exits to the compound were blocked off and the police force’s official Facebook page showed a livestream of events with journalists gathered outside.
“Police are conducting law enforcement operations in the Tseung Kwan O Industrial Area,” it said.
Apple Daily was also livestreaming the raid although it said that all employees arriving at the office had been required to register personal data such as ID cards, staff cards, telephone numbers and addresses with the police and were only allowed into the canteen. Reporters were “prevent(ed) from returning to work,” the media group said on its Facebook page.
China imposed the National Security Law nearly a year ago, after the semi-autonomous city was rocked by months of sometimes violent protests in 2019. The broadly worded law criminalises acts such as subversion, sedition, collusion with foreign forces and secession with possible life imprisonment, but critics have said it is being used to suppress legitimate political debate with dozens of pro-democracy politicians and activists arrested.
Lai was arrested last August when police also raided the media group’s headquarters. The 73-year-old was jailed in December after a court denied him bail. He faces three charges under the security law including colluding with a foreign power.
Last month, authorities used the security law to impose a freeze on Lai’s assets.
Lai made his fortune in the clothing trade and the Giordano fashion chain. Apple Daily, an apologetically pro-democracy newspaper, was founded in 1995.