Five officials of the Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily, including its editor Ryan Law, were arrested Thursday (June 17) under national security law, police and media said.
The five leaders were arrested during a raid on media offices “For collusion with a foreign country or with external elements aimed at endangering national security”Hong Kong police said in a statement. Apple Daily said Mr. Law was among those arrested.
“All are leaders ofApple Daily. They are therefore very familiar with the daily activities of the company ”Chief Commissioner Steve Li told reporters.
Two million euros of frozen assets
The tabloid streamed videos showing the police raid live on Facebook. In these images, police officers were setting up a security perimeter, entering the building, raiding the newsroom and taking a close interest in the journalists’ computers.
In addition, 18 million Hong Kong dollars (2 million euros) of assets held by Apple Daily were frozen under the drastic national security law, police in the semi-autonomous territory said Thursday. “The assets of three companies: Apple Daily Limited, Apple Daily Printing Limited and Apple Daily Intellect Limited have been frozen” and they “Total HK $ 18 million”Steve Li told reporters. This is the first asset seizure in Hong Kong against a newspaper company.
Arrests under national security law
This is the second raid aimed at Apple Daily, unwavering support of the pro-democracy movement in less than a year. Billionaire Jimmy Lai, owner of the newspaper, has been accused of collusion after the first raid, carried out in August. He is currently in jail on multiple sentences for participating in some of the pro-democracy protests that rocked Hong Kong two years ago.
In one year, the political climate has deteriorated considerably in the former British colony, with the relentless repression of the pro-democracy movement which massively mobilized the population in the streets in 2019 against Beijing’s interference. The instrument for this recovery is a draconian national security law imposed by Beijing as well as a reform to ensure that only “Patriots rule Hong Kong”.
This law, which provides for life imprisonment, tackles offenses relating to secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. In fact, its very vague formulation made it possible to suppress any dissenting voice.
More than a hundred people have been indicted under the law. They face life imprisonment if found guilty, and few are released on bail.