Taipei, July 21, 2021 – Hong Kong authorities should immediately release Lam Man-chung and all other former employees of the shuttered pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
At about 6 a.m. today, police arrested Lam, the newspaper’s former executive editor-in-chief, at his home in Sai Kung Town on suspicion of “colluding with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security,” a crime under Hong Kong’s national security law, according to news reports.
Separately, police today rearrested the newspaper’s associate publisher, Chan Pui-man, and editorial writers Yeung Ching-kee and Fung Wai-kong after the Hong Kong Police Force’s national security department revoked their bail, according to news reports.
Police previously arrested Chan on June 17, Yeung on June 23, and Fung on June 27, as CPJ documented at the time; they are also under investigation for allegedly violating the national security law.
“The widening net of arrests and denial of bail for journalists and executives at the now-defunct Apple Daily only broadens the Hong Kong government’s assault on press freedom,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in Washington, D.C. “Police should immediately release Lam Man-chung, Chan Pui-man, Yeung Ching-kee, and Fung Wai-kong, along with all Apple Daily journalists and executives, and ensure that all charges against them are dropped.”
In response to an emailed request for comment from CPJ, the Hong Kong Police Force shared a press release issued by the national security department, which said that a man matching Lam’s description had been arrested for suspected violations of the national security law stemming from “a case detected in June.” The press release said that the man was detained for questioning and added, “police will not rule out the possibility of further arrests.”
The Hong Kong Journalists Association released a statement condemning Lam’s arrest and authorities’ repeated targeting of the Apple Daily.
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. On June 21, the CPJ board announced that it will honor Lai with its 2021 Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award.
Apple Daily announced on June 23 that it would cease publishing amid the police actions against its staff.
On December 1, 2020, CPJ found that at least 47 journalists were imprisoned in China, making it the worst jailer of journalists worldwide for the second year in a row.