Two newspaper executives charged in HK
Hong Kong police charged the chief editor and chief executive of pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily yesterday with collusion with a foreign country, a national security case that has sent chills through the city's media.
On Thursday, 500 police raided the media outlet and officers were seen sitting in front of computers in the newsroom after the arrest of five Apple Daily executives at dawn on suspicion that dozens of its articles violated Hong Kong's new security law.
Police said it charged two of the five on Friday, identified by Apple Daily as editor-in-chief Ryan Law and chief executive officer Cheung Kim-hung. The other three, Chief Operating Officer Chow Tat-kuen, Deputy Chief Editor Chan Puiman and Chief Executive Editor Cheung Chi-wai, were released from custody late yesterday.
Police also said they would prosecute three companies related to Apple Daily for the same offence after freezing HK$18 million ($2.32 million) of their assets.
The arrests have raised further alarm over media freedom in Hong Kong and have been criticised by Western governments and international rights groups and press associations.
The chief UN human rights spokesperson, Rupert Colville, told Reuters on Friday the raid "sends a further chilling message for media freedom".
The national security law imposed by Beijing in 2020 on the former British colony has dropped an authoritarian chill over most aspects of life in Hong Kong, including education and arts.
Democracy supporters flocked to buy copies of 26-year-old Apple Daily yesterday to protest against the raid.
The popular paper increased its Friday press run to 500,000 copies, up from 80,000 the previous day.
In the Mong Kok district, queues formed at some kiosks at midnight.
"You never know when this newspaper will die," said one reader who only gave his last name, Tsang, because of the sensitivity of the matter. "As Hong Kongers, we need to preserve the history. Hang in there as long as we can. Although the road is rough, we still need to walk it, as there's no other road."