The Hong Kong Police arrested five executives from the publication Apple Daily for a potential violation of the controversial national security law. The next day, the newspaper printed 500,000 copies, more than the usual 80,000 copies.
On June 17, 500 police officers raided the newsroom of Apple Daily and arrested five executives, including the editor in chief. They seized 44 hard drives for evidence, according to the newspaper which was able to report the event over 8 pages from mobile phones or personal computers. Authorities also reportedly seized HK $18 million (US $2.32 million) in assets linked to the company and cordoned the building. Employees had to give their personal information before they could come in. Police also searched the personal residences of the five arrested.
As of June 18, two of them, the C.E.O. of Next Digital, the publisher of Apple Daily, and the editor in chief, are going to be prosecuted on June 19. The vice president and the mobile platform director were released on bail. The chief operating officer remained detained for further investigations.
Second raid of Apple Daily in ten months
As a sign of support, some Hongkongers decided to buy the newspaper which increased its circulation to 500,000 copies compared to the 80,000 copies the day before. The tabloid-style, 26-year-old newspaper is among the most popular sources of information for the 7.5 million Hongkongers.
In August 2020, 200 officials already searched Apple Daily’s office and arrested 10 people, including Jimmy Lai, the founder of Next Digital. After that arrest, the newspapers temporarily went from 70,000 to 550,000 copies.
Apple Daily is suspected to have violated the Hong Kong National Security Act with the publication of dozens of articles that showed a “suspected collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security” as they could allow foreign institutions to impose sanctions on Hong Kong or China. Police claims the articles were a conspiracy to “urge a foreign country or an institution, organisation or individual” overseas to “impose sanctions or blockade, or engaging in other hostile activities” against Hong Kong and/or China.
Update: Because its financial assets were frozen, Apple Daily was unable to pursue its operations and shut down on June 24.
- Vice president Chen Peimin and platform director Zhang Zhiwei released on bail, Apple Daily, June 2021, Free access
- Press release, Hong Kong Police force, June 2021, Free access