The offices of pro-democracy media outlet Apple Daily were raided on Thursday by hundreds of Hong Kong police who arrested a number of executives in what critics decried as a “blatant attack” on the paper’s editorial staff.
Following the raid, the Apple Daily reported that five of its top executives were hauled away by police after being charged with violating Article 29 of China’s highly controversial national security law, which Beijing imposed in the wake of the Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill protests that begin in March 2019.
The law bars “collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security,” according to reports.
An adviser to Hong Kong billionaire Jimmy Lai, founder of Next Digital, the parent company of Apple Daily, said, “They are arresting editors. They’re arresting the top editorial folks.” He went on to call it a “blatant attack” on the media outlet.
Activist Sunny Cheung, who has been living in exile from the city after an arrest warrant for him was issued, told Fox News that the raid is an indication the Chinese Communist Party is moving to stifle freedom of the press in the enclave.
He also posted a photo of the raid on Twitter, writing, “Breaking: @appledaily_hk is being raid searched again and 5 top executives including the editor in chief are arrested under the NSL. Era of white terror.”
Breaking: @appledaily_hk is being raid searched again and 5 top executives including the editor in chief are arrested under the NSL.
Era of white terror. pic.twitter.com/lbQWuoB93v
— Sunny Cheung 張崑陽 (@SunnyCheungky) June 17, 2021
Cheung went on to say that he would like to see the governments around the world take a stand against China’s aggressive posture in Hong Kong.
“BREAKING: Hong Kong police raided the HQ of local pro-democracy newspaper @appledaily_hk again on Thurs morn & arrested five senior executives under the security law. Among those arrested was Editor-in-Chief Ryan Law & Next Digital CEO Cheung Kim-hung,” added Tom Grundy, the founder and editor-in-chief of the Hong Kong Free Press, in a tweet with photos.
BREAKING: Hong Kong police raided the HQ of local pro-democracy newspaper @appledaily_hk again on Thurs morn & arrested five senior executives under the security law. Among those arrested was Editor-in-Chief Ryan Law & Next Digital CEO Cheung Kim-hung. https://t.co/ECOk3rfSKp pic.twitter.com/uWdxaZMQbc
— Tom Grundy (@tomgrundy) June 17, 2021
Meanwhile, 73-year-old Lai was sentenced in May to 14 months in prison for allegedly taking part in the 2019 protests. The staunch China critic who fled the Communist country when he was 12 is currently serving a 14-month sentence related to convictions stemming from the protests, which began in March 2019 and lasted into 2020 as hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong residents filled the city’s streets to protest what they saw as undue encroachment on freedoms.
In April, Chinese courts convicted Lai along with six others who are leading pro-democracy voices in Hong Kong. They are: Martin Lee, the 82-year-old founder of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party, and five former pro-democracy lawmakers.
Hong Kong was a British possession for decades, where residents of the city enjoyed unprecedented freedoms not seen in the rest of China. When Beijing gained control of the city in 1997, it came with a promise to keep those freedoms intact for 50 years. However, in recent years, Beijing and the government of Hong Kong have begun to impose harsher restrictions on press and other freedoms in the city, which has alarmed many in the West.
“Organizers estimated that 1.7 million people marched [Aug. 18, 2019] in opposition to a bill that would have allowed suspects to be extradited to mainland China for trial — a measure that infuriated Hong Kongers who cherish their distinct justice system and sparked months of demonstrations that sometimes led to violent clashes between protesters and police,” The Associated Press reported in April.
Eventually the legislation was withdrawn but it so alarmed residents of Hong Kong they demanded full democracy, which in turn led to a greater crackdown by Beijing and the imposition of the national security law.
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