Hong Kong residents lined up at the city’s newsstands before dawn on Friday to buy the latest edition of the Apple Daily newspaper, a day after the national security police arrested its editor-in-chief and four other editors. .
On Thursday morning, hundreds of officers from the Hong Kong Police Department of National Security raided the homes of employees, including Editor-in-Chief Ryan Law, and the Apple Daily newsroom for the second time in less than a year. anus. He froze millions of dollars in company assets.
Police said the raid and arrests were due to alleged violations of the national security law’s clause against foreign collusion, through more than 30 articles calling for international sanctions against Hong Kong and China. Media and rights groups said authorities were using the law to crack down on a vocal critic.
The newspaper staff rejected the accusations against him and vowed to publish the newspaper despite everything, adorning the cover with photos of his five arrested bosses and the headline: “National Security Police searched Apple, arrested five people, seized 44 news material with force. discs. “
At the bottom of the page, in the yellow color associated so closely with the pro-democracy movement, the message: “we must move on.”
The employees had returned to the office only that afternoon, after a police raid that lasted hours with an unprecedented court order allowing the seizure of journalistic material, Apple Daily said.
They connected keyboards to their phones to write their stories, broadcast live and surrounded by rival media documenting the process, including the printers that go into action. The newspaper has a regular circulation of around 80,000 copies, but it printed half a million in anticipation that people would once oppose buying it in support of a police operation.
Across the city, people bought multiple copies, some handing them out to businesses to give to customers, others posting their loot on Instagram, including a woman. who filled an Ikea bag. The owner of a Mongkok newsstand told AFP that he normally sells 60 copies of Apple Daily, but had sold 1,800 before morning on Friday.
45-year-old Steven Chow bought three copies of the newspaper, a controversial and populist tabloid that has become a symbol of the pro-democracy movement.
“There is no perfect medium, but it is a unique voice in Hong Kong,” he said. “You may not like it, but I think you should let them have their voice and survive, it’s important.”
The attack on Apple Daily marked an escalation in the authorities’ attempts to crack down on the Hong Kong media. City security chief John Lee warned other journalists Thursday to “distance themselves” from the defendants, whom he referred to as “criminals” and “perpetrators” of a conspiracy.
Lee did not specify the offending articles or explain how the national security law applied to the media, a long-standing concern since its introduction nearly a year ago. The fears now are that any prosecution of the five executives will further strengthen a chilling effect on the entire industry.
The police operation was condemned by foreign governments, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and the EU, human rights organizations and journalists’ groups. Beijing accused them of defaming the police and interfering in Hong Kong’s internal affairs.
“The facts are clear and the evidence strong, and the cases have nothing to do with freedom of the press.”