Hong Kong police raid pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily, arrest five

Hong Kong police arrest 5 for suspected violation of national security law

He is also accused of breaching the national security law in connection with protest activities. The collusion charge carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

"We will try all our best to publish newspapers for tomorrow", executive chief editor Lam Man-chung, who was not among those arrested, told AFP.

Apple Daily said five of its directors, including 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 all been arrested in morning raids.

Lai was arrested in August a year ago and later charged under the national security law imposed by China on its freest city.

Hong Kong police arrested five directors of the Apple Daily newspaper early this morning, including its editor-in-chief, the media outlet said, in the latest blow to the newspaper's jailed owner Jimmy Lai.

Hong Kong Journalists Association chairman Chris Yeung said in an online news conference that the arrests and raid on Apple Daily could create a chilling effect on society. The result is that it has virtually silenced opposition voices in the city - and drawn sanctions from the US against Hong Kong and Chinese government officials. "Today's Hong Kong feels unfamiliar and leaves us speechless".

Lai, who founded Next Digital, has been the most high-profile target of the government's push against democracy advocates in Hong Kong.

Samuel Chiu, HKDC's managing director, pointed out how journalists in Hong Kong, including Jimmy Lai, Bao Choy, and Nabela Qoser, were being targeted for "defending freedom of the press".

The security law is the speartip of a sweeping crackdown on Beijing's critics in Hong Kong since 2019's huge democracy protests.

He said that the police action against the Apple Daily editors and executives is not related to "normal journalistic work".

Apple Daily cited a government statement on the raid, which said that the operation was conducted "with a search warrant under Article 43 (1) of the national security law, which "covered the power of searching and seizure of journalistic materials".

"There is zero protection of news materials", Yeung added.

The newspaper said that at about 7:30 a.m. local time around 100 officers arrived at its headquarters and cordoned off the area. According to Apple Daily, police officers prevented the paper's journalists from working at their desks and accessed reporters' computers.

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Meanwhile, trading in shares of Next Digital at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange was suspended.

In a press conference outside the newspaper's offices, Hong Kong Police Force National Security Department officer Li Kwai-wah said the police had frozen HK$18 million worth of assets belonging to three Apple Daily companies.

Hong Kong is historically a major global media hub although its press freedom ranking has slipped dramatically in recent years.

The Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR later voiced firm support for the police's law enforcement action.

It was the first time Hong Kong authorities used the law to seize shares of a listed company's majority shareholder.

"This is a blatant attack on the editorial side of Apple Daily". Additionally, he asked that "normal journalists" keep their distance from the "criminals" at Apple Daily.

The paper said computer terminals, hard drives and reporter notepads were among items carted away.

In a letter to readers after the raid, Apple Daily vowed to continue publishing with a clear conscience. Joseph Wu, Taiwan's foreign minister, took to Twitter to express his frustration at what the Hong Kong authorities were doing. "Authoritarianism is waging a brutal war on @appledaily_hk, a desperately endangered symbol of freedom in #HongKong", he tweeted from his official account, "I'm out of words to describe my anger & sadness at witnessing this tragedy".

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