Hong Kong newspaper increases print fivefold after arrests

Jun 17, 2021, 9:32 AM | Updated: Jun 18, 2021, 3:01 am

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily increased its print run more than fivefold to 500,000 copies as residents lined up Friday to buy the paper in a show of support for beleaguered press freedoms, a day after police arrested five top editors and executives.

The raid on the paper’s offices by hundreds of police and security agents — along with the freezing of $2.3 million worth of its assets — marked the first time a sweeping national security law has been used against the media. It was the latest sign of a widening crackdown on civil liberties in the semi-autonomous city, which has long cherished freedoms that don’t exist elsewhere in China.

Police said the editors were arrested on suspicion of foreign collusion to endanger national security, based on over 30 articles that authorities said had called for international sanctions against China and Hong Kong.

On Friday, the National Security Department charged two men with collusion with a foreign country to endanger national security, according to a government statement. The two will appear in court on Saturday.

It did not name them, but the South China Morning Post newspaper cited an unnamed source saying they are Apply Daily’s chief editor Ryan Law and Cheung Kim-hung, the CEO of Apple Daily’s publisher Next Digital. The other three were being detained for investigation.

With anti-government protests silenced, most of the city’s prominent pro-democracy activists in jail and many others fleeing abroad, people snapped up copies at newsstands and in convenience stores.

“There are lots of injustices in Hong Kong already. I think there are a lot of things we cannot do anymore,” said resident Lisa Cheung. “Buying a copy is all what we can do. When the law cannot protect Hong Kong people anymore, we are only left to do what we can.”

The front page of Friday’s edition splashed images of the five editors and executives led away in handcuffs. Police also confiscated 44 hard drives worth of news material. A quote from Cheung, the arrested CEO of Next Digital, said “Hang in there, everyone.”

Another resident, William Chan, said he bought a copy of the paper as a show of support.

“It was such a groundless arrest and suppressed freedom of the press,” he said.

The national security law was imposed after massive protests in 2019 challenged Beijing’s rule by calling for broader democratic freedoms. It outlaws subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign countries. The maximum penalty for serious offenders is life imprisonment.

Security Minister John Lee had on Thursday warned other journalists to distance themselves from those under investigation at Apple Daily. He said those arrested had used journalistic work to endanger national security and that anyone who was “in cahoots” with them would pay a hefty price.

The United States, which has imposed sanctions against Hong Kong and Chinese officials over the crackdown, strongly condemned the arrests and called for the immediate release of the five arrested.

“We are deeply concerned by Hong Kong authorities’ selective use of the national security law to arbitrarily target independent media organizations,” State Department spokesman Price said, adding that the suspected foreign collusion charges appear to be politically motivated.

“As we all know, exchanging views with foreigners in journalism should never be a crime,” he said.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a tweet that freedom of the press is one of the rights China had promised to protect for 50 years when Britain handed over Hong Kong in 1997.

“Today’s raids & arrests at Apple Daily in Hong Kong demonstrate Beijing is using the National Security Law to target dissenting voices, not tackle public security,” Raab said.

European Union spokesperson Nabila Massrali said that the arrests “further demonstrate how the National Security Law is being used to stifle media freedom and freedom of expression in Hong Kong.” Media freedom and pluralism are fundamental to Hong Kong’s success under the “one country, two systems” framework, she said.

In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian rejected the foreign criticism and defended the government’s action, repeating China’s insistence that the national security targets only a “small group of anti-China elements who disrupted Hong Kong and endangered the national security of the country.”

“No right or freedom, including freedom of the press, can break through the bottom line of national security,” Zhao told reporters at a daily briefing.

“Hong Kong is China’s Hong Kong, Hong Kong affairs are purely China’s internal affairs, and no country, organization or individual has the right to intervene,” he said.

Apple Daily has pledged to readers that it will continue its reporting, and on Thursday night invited members of the media to its printing presses to watch its Friday edition roll off the press in a show of commitment.

Its founder Jimmy Lai is currently serving a 20-month prison sentence on charges of playing a part in unauthorized protests in 2019, and faces further charges under the national security law that could potentially put him away for life.

The paper’s average daily circulation has been around 86,000 copies.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

U.S. President Joe Biden, right, disembarks from Air Force One on his arrival at Yokota Air Base, S...
Associated Press

Taiwan not included in launch of new Biden Indo-Pacific pact

TOKYO (AP) — President Joe Biden is expected to unveil a list of nations on Monday who will be joining a long anticipated Indo-Pacific trade pact, but Taiwan won’t be among them. White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan confirmed that Taiwan isn’t among the governments signed up for the launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic […]
1 day ago
Belarus regiment leader, Vadim Prokopiev, practices at a shooting range near Warsaw, Poland, Friday...
Associated Press

Belarusians join war seeking to free Ukraine and themselves

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — One is a restaurateur who fled Belarus when he learned he was about to be arrested for criticizing President Alexander Lukashenko. Another was given the choice of either denouncing fellow opposition activists or being jailed. And one is certain his brother was killed by the country’s security forces. What united them […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Croatia police open fire during soccer fan clash; 2 injured

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — Croatian police opened fire with live ammunition during clashes on a highway with hundreds of soccer fans returning from a match in the capital, authorities said. Two fans and about a dozen police officers were injured. The violence late Saturday happened when a convoy of buses was transporting Hajduk Split fans […]
1 day ago
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks before boarding Air Force One for a trip to Japan at Osan Air Base,...
Associated Press

Biden says monkeypox cases something to ‘be concerned about’

PYEONGTAEK, South Korea (AP) — President Joe Biden said Sunday that recent cases of monkeypox that have been identified in Europe and the United States were something “to be concerned about.” In his first public comments on the disease, Biden added: “It is a concern in that if it were to spread it would be […]
1 day ago
FILE - Shireen Mazari, center, leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, addresses a news confe...
Associated Press

Pakistani court orders probe into ex-minister’s arrest

ISLAMABAD (AP) — A court in Pakistan’s capital has ordered an investigation into the controversial arrest of a former human rights minister over a decades old land dispute. Chief Justice Ather Minallah of the Islamabad High Court late Saturday ordered the probe in response to a petition from the daughter of former minister Shireen Mazari. […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Mariners look to break 3-game road skid, play the Red Sox

Seattle Mariners (17-24, fourth in the AL West) vs. Boston Red Sox (18-22, fourth in the AL East) Boston; Sunday, 1:35 p.m. EDT PITCHING PROBABLES: Mariners: Logan Gilbert (4-2, 2.60 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 51 strikeouts); Red Sox: Nathan Eovaldi (1-2, 4.32 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 42 strikeouts) FANDUEL SPORTSBOOK LINE: Red Sox -132, Mariners +111; over/under […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
Hong Kong newspaper increases print fivefold after arrests