Hong Kong Police Raid Pro-Democracy Newspaper Apple Daily, Arrest 5.

Hong Kong Police Raid Pro-Democracy Newspaper Apple Daily, Arrest 5

The Apple Daily's chief-editor and four other executives were arrested by the Hong Kong police.

Hong Kong:

Hong Kong police arrested the chief editor and four executives of pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily on Thursday, raiding its newsroom for a second time in the latest blow to the outspoken tabloid.

The paper and its jailed owner Jimmy Lai have long been a thorn in Beijing's side with unapologetic support for the financial hub's pro-democracy movement and scathing criticism of China's authoritarian leaders.

More than 500 officers were involved in the dawn operation which police said was sparked by articles Apple Daily had published "appealing for sanctions" against Hong Kong and China's leaders.

The five executives were arrested "for collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security".

"Those arrested are all directors of Apple Daily so they are very familiar with the company's daily operations," senior superintendent Steve Li told reporters. "They have overall responsibility for the content, style and principles of news reporting."

Police said HK$18 million (US$2.3m) in Apple Daily assets had also been frozen under the security law, the first time a seizure order has been made directly against a Hong Kong media company, rather than an individual.

On Facebook, Apple Daily broadcast live footage and shared photos of the raid. Officers could be seen cordoning off the building, searching the newsroom and looking through journalists' computer consoles.

"They arrived around 7 am this morning, our building is besieged," an unnamed reporter said in the broadcast.

"Police are restricting us from using quite a lot of our equipment. But we can still keep this live camera on and our website will keep updating," the voice added.

Sweeping security law

Most of the executives were arrested at home but later taken to the newspaper.

Chief editor Ryan Law and CEO Cheung Kim-hung were both led into the building with their hands fastened behind their backs.

Stand News, a pro-democracy online media outlet, published pictures showing police had smashed down the house door of Chan Pui-man -- Law's deputy.

Hong Kong's stock exchange said trading in shares of Next Digital -- the publisher of the newspaper -- had been halted.

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

It has criminalised much dissent, given China jurisdiction over some cases, allowed mainland security agents to operate openly in Hong Kong and awarded authorities a suite of powerful new investigation powers.

Those convicted of a national security crime face up to life in prison and the majority are denied bail after arrest.

Thursday's raid was the second on Apple Daily in less than a year.

The tabloid's billionaire owner Lai, 73, was charged with collusion after hundreds of officers searched the paper's newsroom last August.

He is currently serving multiple jail sentences for attending various protests.

Apple Daily has staunchly backed Hong Kong's pro-democracy cause, including the huge and often violent demonstrations that swept the city in 2019.

Beijing has made no secret of its desire to see the paper's voice tamed, with state media routinely describing Lai as a "traitor" and a "black hand" and senior communist party officials already declaring him guilty.

Asset seizures

Last month, police used the national security law to freeze Lai's bank accounts and his majority shares in Next Digital.

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

Until Thursday's raid, authorities had left the company's assets alone. It is unclear whether Apple Daily will now be able to pay its staff.

More than 100 people have been arrested under the security law, many of them the city's best-known democracy activists. Others have fled overseas.

China says the law was needed to return stability to the international financial hub.

Critics, including many Western nations, say it has been the final nail in the coffin for the "One Country, Two Systems" promise that Hong Kong could maintain certain liberties after its 1997 handover to China by the British.

A shadow of fear has hung over the newsroom since Lai's arrest.

Speaking with AFP last month, chief editor Law admitted that the paper was in "crisis" since the jailing of its owner but said his reporters were determined to press on with publishing.

At a recent meeting, staff asked Law what they should do if the police came back to arrest him.

"Broadcast it live," he said.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV News

NDTV.com provides latest news from India and the world. Get today’s news headlines from Business, Technology, Bollywood, Cricket, videos, photos, live news coverage and exclusive breaking news from India.

https://www.ndtv.com/

Related news

China Sanctions US Citizens, Entities Over Hong Kong.

Beijing announced sanctions on seven American citizens and entities Friday in response to a US advisory on deteriorating freedoms in Hong Kong, just days ahead of a visit from a senior Biden...

NDTV News

Comedian tells Tucker Carlson his take on identity politics.

Comedian tells Tucker Carlson his take on identity politics.

Jimmy Dore says 'the establishment has learned how to co-op identity politics to put the breaks on economic progress' on 'Tucker Carlson Today.' #FoxNews #Tucker Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX Ne...

Watch: Dust Devil Pitch Invasion Disrupts Bolivian Soccer Match.

Watch: Dust Devil Pitch Invasion Disrupts Bolivian Soccer Match.

The small whirlwind full of dirt and dust caused no apparent damage while delaying the start of a tournament final in Achocalla. » Subscribe to MSNBC: MSNBC delivers breaking news, in-depth analysis of politics headlines, as well as commentary and...

Delta Variant Doubles US COVID-19 Cases Since Last Month.

Delta Variant Doubles US COVID-19 Cases Since Last Month.

Biden administration struggles with the surge as misinformation continues to drive anti-vaccination sentiments

Gutfeld torches Democrats for defunding police while funding own police protection.

Gutfeld torches Democrats for defunding police while funding own police protection.

Greg Gutfeld, Emily Campagno, Tyrus Murdoch, Joey Jones and Susan Li discuss the issue on 'Gutfeld!' #FoxNews #Gutfeld Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX News Channel (FNC) is a 24-hour all-encompass...

Germany, US strike Nord Stream 2 compromise deal - DW News.

Germany, US strike Nord Stream 2 compromise deal - DW News.

The US and Germany have struck a compromise over the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, according to a joint statement. The pact comes days after Chancellor Angela Merkel's last official visit to Washington prior to leaving office this Sept...

Leo Terrell: Attack on white children, teachers should be met with lawsuits.

Leo Terrell: Attack on white children, teachers should be met with lawsuits.

Fox News contributor Leo Terrell sounds off after the Biden administration walks back ties to a group pushing critical race theory in schools. #FoxNews Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX News Channel...