by WorldTribune Staff, June 17, 2021
Chinese Communist Party (CCP) authorities ordered police in Hong Kong to raid the offices of the pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper on Thursday.
Several top editors were arrested and accused of violating Article 29 of the communist nation’s national security law, which bans “collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security.”
The collusion charge carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
Apple Daily’s founder, Jimmy Lai, is currently in prison for participating in pro-democracy protests in 2019. Lai is also facing allegations that he violated the national security law.
Among those arrested were the paper’s editor-in-chief Ryan Law and associate publisher Chan Pui-man. Cheung Kim-hung and Royston Chow, chief executive officer and chief operating officer of the paper’s publishing firm Next Digital, were also arrested.
“The arrests of five executives at the pro-democracy Apple Daily today under Hong Kong’s Orwellian National Security Law destroy any remaining fiction that Hong Kong supports freedom of the press,” Steven Butler, Asia program coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), said in a statement.
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He added: “China, which controls Hong Kong, may be able to eliminate the paper, which it sees as an annoying critic, but only at a steep price to be paid by the people of Hong Kong, who had enjoyed decades of free access to information.”
Washington-based nonprofit Hong Kong Democracy Council (HKDC) issued a statement critical of both the Chinese regime and the pro-Beijing Hong Kong government.
“Hong Kong has been left with little free speech under the NSL (national security law), which aims to silence all dissent. Today’s arrests mark yet another step toward remaking Hong Kong in Beijing’s liking,” stated Victoria Hui, a HKDC board member.
Steve Li, superintendent of Hong Kong’s national security unit, told local media that Hong Kong authorities had frozen about $2.32 million in assets from three companies linked to Apple Daily.