The operation, which mobilized nearly 500 men, according to the police, started around six in the morning. The five leaders of the very popular opposition tabloid Apple Daily, in particular the managing director of the group Next Digital, Cheung Kim-hung, and the editor-in-chief of the newspaper, Ryan Law, were arrested simultaneously at their home. They are “Suspected” having “Conspired to conspire with foreign forces”, one of the four crimes covered by the draconian new law “for the preservation of national security”, LSN, imposed by Beijing following the disorders and anti-government riots of 2019 and entered into force on June 30, 2020.
The suspected offense is entitled “Collusion with a foreign country or with external elements with a view to endangering national security”. The respective residences of these five leaders, four men and one woman, aged 47 to 63, were searched. None of those arrested has yet been formally charged, but they were taken away in handcuffs.
At the same time, dozens of police vans surrounded the headquarters of the newspaper and its printing press, located in the Tseung Kwan O neighborhood, and hundreds of police arrived on the upper floors. Computers, telephones, professional equipment and crates of documents were confiscated. The building of Apple Daily was declared a “crime scene”. Police denied journalists access to their offices and also banned photographing or filming the situation.
Police also claimed to have frozen 18 million Hong Kong dollars (around 2 million euros) which was in the bank accounts of three companies linked to the newspaper: Apple Daily Limited, Apple Daily Printing Limited and AD Internet Limited.
“At least thirty articles” concerned
Behind the Apple Daily, it is also its founder who is targeted: Jimmy Lai, proven and assumed public enemy of the Chinese Communist Party. The 72-year-old businessman is being prosecuted for a series of crimes whose accumulation makes one think of relentlessness on the part of the authorities. He was placed in preventive detention in December 2020. Since then, he has been sentenced several times for “illegal assembly” and has yet to answer several other charges. He is mostly indicted three times under the National Security Act for crimes punishable by life imprisonment.
You have 46.11% of this article left to read. The rest is for subscribers only.