Credit: Ah To 阿塗
The authorities' attack on Jimmy Lai's Apple Daily continues. Earlier today, Hong Kong’s national security police arrested its parent company, Next Digital's CEO (Cheung Kim-hung) and COO (Royston Chow), the newspaper's chief editor Ryan Law, associate publisher Chan Pui-man and Apple Daily Digital's platform director (Cheung Chi-wai). "They are accused of breaking Article 29 of the Beijing-imposed national security law, which prohibits “collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security.”
"At 7:30 a.m. on Thursday, hundreds of police officers also raided the headquarters of Apple Daily in Tseung Kwan O, blocking all entrances of the office. All staff members are required to register with their identity cards, staff ID and personal information, before they are allowed in. They can only enter the canteen and are prevented from accessing other areas of the office. Journalists are not allowed to return to their own desks, and are barred from filming or live-streaming the raid."
Nonetheless, the Apple Daily folks have managed to put out a report on the Apple Daily website for people to read. More than by the way, if the photo looks familiar: "The police last raided Apple Daily’s newsroom and arrested executives in August last year, weeks after the national security legislation took effect. Founder Jimmy Lai is now in jail over unauthorized assembly and faces a slew of further charges, including fraud and foreign collusion. Last month, authorities froze HK$500 million (US$64.41 million) in assets that belonged to Lai, including his shares in the Next Digital, which operates Apple Daily."
In a letter to its readers published this afternoon, it's made clear though that "the staff of Apple Daily is standing firm". This despite it being so that: "After five hours of investigation, [the] police confiscated a large number of items [from the newspaper's office], including 38 computers of journalists, which contained considerable journalistic materials. Hong Kong’s press freedom is now hanging by a thread."
It's been reported that the plan is to print 500,000 copies of Apple Daily for tomorrow. If by some miracle, they get printed and made available for sale, I hope that Hong Kongers will rally once more to support the only remaining pro-democracy print newspaper in Hong Kong and snap them up. This despite -- or maybe even because of -- security secretary John Lee having urged the public and the media this afternoon to cut all ties with several Apple Daily executives arrested under the national security law, warning people that "would regret it" if they don't do so; a move more than one commentator has described as "chilling".