Police charge five people with “collusion with foreign forces” in the latest wave of arrests under the National Security Act, with dozens of officers sent to the media group’s headquarters.
Hong Kong police arrested the editor of Apple Daily, the media group founded by jailed pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai, and four other directors, for alleged national security offenses in a series of early morning raids on Thursday, as dozens of police officers blocked access to the media group’s headquarters in Hong Kong.
Apple Daily has confirmed that editor-in-chief Ryan Law, chief executive Cheung Kim-hung, chief operating officer Chow Tat-kuen, deputy editor-in-chief Chan Puiman and chief editor Cheung Chi-wai have been arrested.
They are accused of “collusion with foreign forces”.
“The information published in the newspaper would have constituted an offense under the National Security Law,” the South China Morning Post said, citing an anonymous police source.
Local media said police arrived at the media group’s headquarters around 7:00 am (11:00 pm GMT Wednesday) with warrants to search the premises as well as to seize “journalistic material”.
Entrances and exits to the complex were blocked and the official police Facebook page broadcast the events live with reporters gathered outside.
“Police are carrying out law enforcement operations in Tseung Kwan O industrial zone,” he said.
Apple Daily was also live streaming the raid, although it said all employees arriving at the office were required to register personal data such as ID cards, staff cards, phone numbers and numbers. addresses to the police and were only allowed in the canteen. Journalists were “prevented from returning to work,” the media group said on its Facebook page.
China imposed the national security law almost a year ago, after the semi-autonomous city was rocked by months of sometimes violent protests in 2019. The broad law criminalizes acts such as subversion, sedition, collusion with foreign forces and secession with possible imprisonment in perpetuity, but critics said it was being used to suppress legitimate political debate with dozens of politicians and pro-democracy activists arrested.
Lai was arrested last August when police also raided the headquarters of the media group. The 73-year-old was imprisoned in december after a court denied him bail. He faces three counts under the Security Act, including collusion with a foreign power.
Authorities last month used the security law to impose a Lai’s assets freeze.
Lai made his fortune in the clothing business and the Giordano fashion chain. Apple Daily, a pro-democracy apology newspaper, was founded in 1995.