(TibetanReview.net, Jun20’21) – Police in Hong Kong on Jun 17 raided the office of the island’s pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily and arrested five of its executives under the controversial new national security law, earning rebuke from the UN rights chief’s office. While three were later released on bail, two have been charged.
The bbc.com Jun 18 cited the UN’s chief human rights spokesperson, Rupert Colville, as saying Jun 18 that the newsroom raid sent “a further chilling message for media freedom”.
“We call on Hong Kong authorities to respect their obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in line with the Basic Law, in particular freedom of expression,” he was quoted as saying.
Those charged were Editor-in-chief Ryan Law and chief executive officer Cheung Kim-hung and they remain in police custody. The other three, Chief Operating Officer Chow Tat-kuen, Deputy Chief Editor Chan Pui-man and Chief Executive Editor Cheung Chi-wai remain under investigation, bbc.com Jun 18 cited police as saying.
Apple Daily, a tabloid, is known for its bold criticism of the mainland Chinese leadership.
Its billionaire owner Jimmy Lai, a high-profile supporter of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, is already in jail on a string of controversial charges, including allegedly participating in an unauthorised assembly in 2019.
Mr Lai is one of dozens of prominent activists arrested since Beijing introduced the national security law last year.
The raid was reported to have been carried out by about 500 police officers and ended with them carrying away computers and hard-drives.
Police also froze HK$18m ($2.3m) of assets owned by three companies linked to the paper, the report said.
The report cited police as saying in a media briefing that since 2019, Apple Daily had published more than 30 articles calling on countries to impose sanctions on Hong Kong and mainland China.
Following news of the raid, People queued up to buy copies of the pro-democracy newspaper.
The front page carried a message of defiance, reading: “We must press on.”
Reports said while the daily typically prints between 80,000 n 90,000 copies per day, that was increased to 500,000 to meet demand. Some newsstands sold out, the report said.