Washington, D.C., June 16, 2021 — In response to the Hong Kong police force’s raid on the office of the independent newspaper Apple Daily and the arrests of five executives today, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement:
“The arrests of five executives at the pro-democracy Apple Daily today under Hong Kong’s Orwellian National Security Law destroy any remaining fiction that Hong Kong supports freedom of the press,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “China, which controls Hong Kong, may be able to eliminate the paper, which it sees as an annoying critic, but only at a steep price to be paid by the people of Hong Kong, who had enjoyed decades of free access to information.”
More than 100 police officers raided the newspaper’s office this morning and arrested Apple Daily editor-in-chief Ryan Law Wai-kwong, associate publisher Chan Pui-man, Apple Action News platform director Cheung Chi-wai, and Cheung Kim-hung, the group chief executive officer of Next Digital, the newspaper’s parent company, and Royston Chow, Next Digital’s chief operating officer, according to news reports.
The five are under investigation for alleged conspiracy to collude with foreign forces, a crime under Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Convictions can result in life in prison, according to reports.
Next Digital and Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai is currently in prison and on trial for alleged violations of the National Security Law, as CPJ has documented. In a separate case, Lai was sentenced on April 16 to 14 months in prison for allegedly organizing and participating in illegal demonstrations in 2019.
[Editor’s note: The text in the third paragraph has been updated to correct the spelling of Chan Pui-man’s name.]