Apple Daily raids and arrests

  (Redirected from Next Digital raid and arrests)

Apple Daily, once the largest pro-democracy newspaper in Hong Kong, along with its parent company Next Digital, were raided and with executives arrested by the Hong Kong Police Force twice on 10 August 2020 and 17 June 2021. Some of the arrested and three companies of Next Digital were charged under the Hong Kong national security law. The 26-year-old newspaper was forced to close in June 2021 following the raids and the freeze of capital.

Apple Daily raids and arrests
今年8月10日,約200名警員高調搜查蘋果日報大樓.jpg
A police cordon outside the Next Digital building on 10 August 2020
Native name 警方國安處搜查《蘋果日報》
DateAugust 10, 2020 (2020-08-10) & June 17, 2021 (2021-06-17)
LocationTseung Kwan O Industrial Estate, New Territories, Hong Kong
Coordinates22°17′10″N 114°16′26″E / 22.2861116°N 114.2740238°E / 22.2861116; 114.2740238Coordinates: 22°17′10″N 114°16′26″E / 22.2861116°N 114.2740238°E / 22.2861116; 114.2740238
TargetExecutives of Next Digital and Apple Daily
OutcomeApple Daily ceased operation on 24 June 2021 due to capital frozen by the authorities
ChargesCollusion with foreign forces, defraud

BackgroundEdit

National Security LawEdit

 
Jimmy Lai (left) in October 2019 during a meeting with US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi regarding Hong Kong's pro-democracy protest, which was accused by pro-Beijing camp as colluding with foreign forces

Before Hong Kong national security law was imposed by the Beijing Government and officially promulgated by the Hong Kong Government on 30 June 2020, Jimmy Lai, the founder of Next Digital, was rumoured to be a target under the new law. Lai insisted on not leaving Hong Kong; during two interviews on 16 and 29 June he said that he was expecting to be jailed. He also vowed to fight until the last moment.[1]

United States sanctionsEdit

The United States Department of the Treasury announced first round of sanctions against 11 Hong Kong and Chinese officials on 7 August 2020. Chief Executive of Hong Kong Carrie Lam, Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng, Secretary for Security John Lee, Police Commissoner Chris Tang were among those on SDN list.[2][3][4] The Department denounced Lam's critical role in pushing the later withdrawn extradition bill and the national security law, suppressing the freedom and democracy in Hong Kong.

The PRC Government counter-sanctioned 11 US congressmen and politicians on 10 August, including Josh Hawley, as well as Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Chris Smith, who had already been sanctioned earlier.

First raidEdit

EventsEdit

 
Lai (second left, wearing white) was arrested in Homantin residence at 10 am on 10 August

In the morning on 10 August 2020, the National Security Department of the Hong Kong Police Force arrested founder of Next Digital Jimmy Lai. Four senior management staff of the company, CEO Cheung Kim-hung, CFO Royston Chow Tat-kuen, Administrative Director Wong Wai-keung, and Animation Director Ng Tat-kwong, were arrested on suspicion on conspiracy to commit fraud,[5] while Chow was also with the suspicion of collusion with foreign forces under the National Security Law.[6] Two sons of Lai were arrested also under the suspicion of collusion with foreign forces. Mark Simon, the adviser to Lai who was not in Hong Kong, was reportedly wanted by the police. He later confirmed on Twitter that Lai had been arrested under the national secuity law.[7]

 
Police waiting outside the office of Apple Daily

Nearly 200 police cordoned, raided, and searched the headquarter of Next Digital and Apple Daily in Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate at 10 am after making arrests.[8] Ryan Law Wai-kwong, editor-in-Chief of Apple Daily, asked the cops to show the search warrant issued by the court. Apple Daily said such request was ignored,[8] but the Police Force later rejected such claim.[citation needed] The administrative Department of Apple Daily called the staff not to come to work due to unexpected situations.[9] Some journalists were prevented from picturing the office desk by the police, while those at the office had their personal information taken by the police. It was said the departments of local news, breaking news and finance news were raided.[10]

 
Lai was brought away by the police at around 1 pm

Handcuffed Lai was brought to the office at around 11 am. Chan Pui-man, Associate Publisher of Apple Daily, and Law insisted to monitor the raid and argued that the search warrant did not cover the news material, which was echoed by Steve Li Kwai-wah from the National Security Department,[11] although the police took away the materials and threatened to arrest two with suspicion of obstructing police officers.[12] Cheung, also handcuffed, arrived at noon. Lawyers were permitted to reach Lai and Cheung after negotiations with the police.[13][8] Editors while working and reporters were asked to leave the office,[14] blocked from taking photos of Cheung,[15] and were stopped from entering the editing department of the office.[16]

 
Fu Chun-chung, pro-Beijing activist, celebrated the arrest of Lai outside the office at around 3 pm

Lai and Cheung left the office at around 1 pm following three-hour raid in the office. Computers, mobile phones, details of the exiled activists and other evidences were said to be taken away.[17] Some pro-Beijing activists celebrated the raid outside the office.[18]

Controversies stirred as local and international reporters from RTHK, Stand News, Inmedia, AFP and Reuters were not allowed to enter press area, while media said to be pro-government were allowed in.[19]

On the same day, Hong Kong police also arrested three activists: Agnes Chow,[20] Wilson Li Chung-chak and Andy Li Yu-hin, and sent three officers with a court order to the Hong Kong office of The Nikkei who ran an advert paid for by pro-democracy activists in 2019.[21][22]

ReactionsEdit

The unprecedented raid caused widespread controversy in the international community.

Hong KongEdit

 
Hong Kong Journalists Association Yeung Kin-hing was interviewed following the raid
  • Chairman of Hong Kong Journalists Association Yeung Kin-hing described the raid as destroying press freedom in Hong Kong, shaping white terror in the city only to be seen in the Third World.[8]
  • The Next Digital Trade Union strongly condemned police operation saying it was extremely rare and severe in the history of Hong Kong. The Union criticized the search of news material as an abuse of power and to harass news media, and vowed to guard the post.[23]
  • Foreign Correspondents' Club stated the operation eroded the reputation of Hong Kong and signaled the end of press freedom in Hong Kong.[24]
  • Several groups from the media released joint statement, urging the police to elaborate on the aim and legal basis of this operation, or else the operation shall be suspended immediately.[25]
  • 22 Pro-democracy legislators strongly denounced the police as intimidating the media.[26] Now-exiled former legislator Nathan Law described the arrest operation as "crazy".[27]
  • Pro-Beijing DAB and FTU supported the police operation as to guard the national security.[28]

People's Republic of ChinaEdit

TaiwanEdit

  • President Tsai Ing-wen strongly denounced the Hong Kong government of damaging press freedom, rule-of-law, human rights, and democracy, leading to a chilling effect within the media industry.
  • The Mainland Affairs Council denounced the "evil" actions by the Hong Kong government, believing such acts would only shame the international image of CCP and Hong Kong.[32]
  • Premier Su Tseng-chang called CCP to keep the promise of 50-year pledge.[33]

United KingdomEdit

United StatesEdit

  • In a tweet, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence called the arrest offensive. Pence tweeted that the arrest of Jimmy Lai was "an affront to freedom-loving people around the world. He recalled his meeting with Lai at the White House and said he was encouraged by his insistence on democracy, rights and Beijing's commitment to giving Hong Kong people autonomy. And he said, "The United States will continue to stand with Jimmy Lai and all freedom-loving people of Hong Kong.[37]
  • U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the arrests proved that the Chinese government had "deprived" Hong Kong of its freedom. Pompeo tweeted, "I am deeply troubled by reports that Hong Kong arrested Jimmy Lai under the draconian national security law.", "Further proof that the Chinese Communist Party has already deprived Hong Kong of its freedoms and eroded the rights of its people.[37]
  • In a tweet, Republican Florida Senator Rick Scott criticized the Chinese Communist Party for continuing to silence and intimidate those who speak out for democracy and human rights, adding that the Hong Kong national security law is a tool that directly infringes on Hong Kong's freedom and autonomy.[38]

OthersEdit

EffectsEdit

Volatile stockEdit

Following the news of Jimmy Lai arrested spread in the city, the stock of Next Digital was volatile as pledge to buy the stock emerged at the online forums. The stock plunged more than 15% after Lai arrested, but then surged nearly 280% in the afternoon,[46] becoming the stock with the best performance in the day.[47] The stock price, at peak, accumulated more than 2,000% of increase in 3 days only, but then plunged again.

Police arrested 15 people on suspicion of fraud and money-laundering on 10 September, insisting that the arrest operation only targeted the scam taking advantage of the Next Digital incident instead of the company.[48]

Purchase of newspaperEdit

Apple Daily supporters called for buying newspaper as to show support to the newspaper. The newspaper printed 350,000 copies for 11 August edition, and later raised the number to 550,000 in the early morning of the day, which is significantly higher than the normally 70,000 copies.[49] Queues were seen at the newspaper stalls.[50]

Second raidEdit

EventsEdit

 
Cheung Chi-wai was taken away by police after searching for evidence
 
Inside one of the reporter desk after police raid

In the morning on 17 June 2021, the National Security Department of the Hong Kong Police Force arrested five Next Digital executives. They included the company's CEO Cheung Kim-hung, COO Royston Chow Tat-kuen, Apple Daily editor-in-chief Ryan Law, vice-president Chan Pui-man, and Next Animation Studio chief executive director Cheung Chi-wai.[51] Around 500 police officers and National Security Department officers went straight to the Apple Daily building in Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate, blocking off the building and all exits. All staff and persons entering the building must register with ID cards and staff cards, and are also required providing personal information such as telephone number and address, Li Kwai-wah, a senior Superintendent of the National Security Department of the police, also came to investigate. A police officer wearing a black vest at the scene said that after registration, all employees returning to the building could only leave or go to the restaurant on the 5th floor, and cannot enter other areas of the building. They also pointed out that they were searching for evidence at the scene to prevent reporters from returning to work, and that shooting was prohibited.[52]

Police asked reporter to leave the deskEdit

When the police arrived, there were about 20 employees in the "Apple Daily" building, including several reporters and cleaners. The police asked everyone to lay down their work and gather in the lobby on the second floor. The police then registered their ID cards and then asked them to stop work and leave, the reporter was asked to go to the staff restaurant on the 5th floor. During the period, a number of police officers randomly searched the documents on the reporter's desk and opened the cabinet, and asked the reporter to testify. However, the reporter claimed that the company lawyer could only read the documents after the company's lawyer arrived, and refused to assist in the search for evidence. The police officer immediately called the reporter to sit down. Low, and there was no positive response as to whether the evidence search will begin after the lawyer arrives. An agent turned on the reporter's computer to search for information. At present, all reporters in the building have been asked to leave the editorial department and wait in the underground space or on the 5th floor. They were unable to enter and exit the building freely. Police officers stepped forward to stop them. The reporter used a camcorder to film police officers during the search. It is reported that an employee's company phone placed on the desk on the second floor had a record of "being online" at 8 o'clock in the morning.[52]

Information Services Department stated at 7:24 am that the National Security Department arrested five company directors of the Apple Daily this morning on suspicion of violating the National Security Law. The 5 persons, including 4 men and 1 woman, aged between 47 and 63, were suspected of violating Article 29 of the Hong Kong National Security Law, "conspiracy to collude with foreign countries or foreign forces to endanger national security". The police also went to the arrested person's residence. search. Five people have been detained for investigation. At 8:07 am, it stated that the National Security Department executed a court warrant issued by the court in accordance with Article 43(1) of the Hong Kong National Security Act and Schedule 1 of the Implementation Rules this morning to search a media organization in Tseung Kwan O. The search warrant granted the police the power to search including news materials. The purpose of the operation was to search evidence for a suspected violation of the National Security Law.[53]

The five arrested persons are chief executive officer of Next Media Cheung Kim-hung, Chief Operating Officer Chow Tat-kuen, Vice President of Apple Daily Chan Pui-man, Editor-in-chief Ryan Law, and chief executive director Cheung Chi-wai. Several police officers arrived at Kornhill before 7 am. About half an hour later, Ryan Law was taken away from the apartment. At that time, his hands were handcuffed. In addition, some media said that Chan Pui-man's residence was forcibly "exploded" by the police. Inside, the search lasted two and a half hours, and two electronic devices that did not belong to Chan were taken away, including two laptop computers and a tablet computer. They were taken to Tseung Kwan O Police Station, Chai Wan Police Station and Cheung Sha Wan Police Station to assist in the investigation. By 9 a.m., Cheung and Law were taken away from the police station. They were then taken by a private car to the Apple Daily building to search for evidence. The lawyers was also present to find out. When Cheung and Law were brought into the building, their hands were locked in handcuffs. Nearly 10:30 in the morning, Cheung, Chow, and Chan were taken back to the "Apple Daily" building by police.

Senior Superintendent Li Kwai-wah of the National Security Department explained the incident at 11 a.m., said that more than 500 police forces were used in the operation this morning. The police had frozen the assets of three companies, including Apple Daily, Apple Printing and AD Internet Limited totaling 18 million yuan. Since 2019, Apple Daily has contained dozens of articles calling for foreign sanctions against the CCP and the SAR government.[54] The five arrested people are very important to the company's operations. They are responsible for the content style and policy of the article, and it is not ruled out that some people will be arrested. catch. At about 12 noon, 2 Apple Daily executives and 3 journalists were taken away from the Apple Daily building. Editor-in-chief Ryan Law was taken to the North Point Police Station for investigation, and Next Media CEO Cheung Kim-hung was taken there Cheung Sha Wan Police Station; Chow Tat-kuwn, Chief Operating Officer of Next Media Group, was first taken to Aberdeen Police Station, and then transferred to Western Police Station for detainment. Vice President Chan Pui-man was taken to Tseung Kwan O Police Station; after chief executive director Cheung Chi-wai left the building, he was taken to Wong Tai Sin Police Station. The police will seize documents and materials in the Apple Daily building, including at least 44 computers, containing a large amount of news materials. In addition, they will seize more than a large number of past newspapers from the newspaper's library. The dates involved are from January 2017 to that day. These exhibits were put into a number of blue plastic boxes, and then the police officers moved the plastic boxes to a secret truck parked downstairs to take them away. At about 1:15 pm, the police raided the Apple Daily building for more than 5 hours and then collected the team and left.[55]

GalleryEdit

ReactionsEdit

Hong KongEdit

  • Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on a press conference that
  • Secretary for Security John Lee said on a press conference that the arrest operation is aimed at the suspected use of journalism as a tool to endanger national security. The property frozen this time is the property of suspected criminals. He also emphasized that national security is a top priority, and endangering national security is a very serious crime, which can be sentenced to life imprisonment, and anyone engaged in any job must abide by the National Security Law and other laws. He said for those who try to use journalism as an umbrella or cover to commit crimes that endanger national security, the SAR government will definitely take the most severe measures to crack down in accordance with the law.[56][57]
  • Hong Kong Liaison Office stated that it firmly supports the SAR government and the police to strictly implement all efforts made to maintain national security and Hong Kong's prosperity and stability. Violations of the Hong Kong National Security Law and related laws will be severely sanctioned by the law.[58]
  • Office for Safeguarding National Security stated that any institution, organization and individual in the Hong Kong shall abide by the National Security Law and other laws of the Hong Kong concerning the maintenance of national security, and shall not engage in acts and activities that endanger national security. The National Security Agency in Hong Kong resolutely supports the police in performing their duties in accordance with the law, and resolutely crack down on any acts that endanger national security in accordance with the law.[59]

United KingdomEdit

  • Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said that today's raid and raid of Apple Daily in Hong Kong showed that the CCP is using the National Security Law to target different voices, rather than addressing public safety issues. Press freedom is the CCP's commitment to protect in the Sino-British Joint Declaration. He also said that one of the rights that should be respected.[60]
  • Minister of State for Asia Nigel Adams stated on his Twitter that as a signatory of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, the CCP is committed to protecting Hong Kong's freedom of the press and freedom of speech. It must abide by these commitments. The closure of the Apple Daily today is another chilling step to eliminate opposition.[61]

United StatesEdit

  • U.S. President Joe Biden stated that through arrests, threats, and forcing through National Security Law that punishes free speech, Beijing has insisted on wielding its power to suppress independent media and silence dissenting views.[62]
  • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the arrests was the sad day for the freedom of the press in Hong Kong. He also said that Hong Kong people have the right to freedom of the press, and supports the people of Hong Kong and all those who defend basic freedoms.[63]
  • Spokesman of the Department of State Ned Price said on briefing that the United States strongly condemns the arrest of five senior executives of the Apple Daily and its parent company, and demands their immediate release. The accusation of "crime of endangering national security by foreign forces" appears to be entirely politically motivated.[64]

OthersEdit

  • The Global Affairs Canada stated that the arrest of five executives from Hong Kong's Apple Daily is another example of national security law being used to suppress freedom of the press. Canada firmly supports freedom of speech and press, which must be protected by Basic Law and comply with international norms.[65]
  • The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs Trade stated that Australia is concerned about the arrest of Apple Daily reporters and that this will have an impact on Hong Kong's freedom of speech, as stipulated in the Hong Kong Basic Law based on the Sino-British Joint Declaration.[66]
  • New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said that New Zealand has long been a defender of freedom of the press, which is vital to protecting basic human rights. New Zealand is concerned about the Hong Kong SAR government's forced closure of the Apple Daily, which has further eroded Hong Kong's rights and freedoms.[67]
  • The spokesperson of European External Action Service said that this raid further demonstrated how the National Security Law was used to stifle freedom of the press and freedom of speech in Hong Kong. All existing rights and freedoms of Hong Kong people must be fully protected, including freedom of the press and the press.[68]
  • Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan Katsunobu Kato called the closure of Apple Daily a "major setback" for freedom of speech and freedom of the press in Hong Kong and voiced "increasingly grave concerns" over the situation.[69]

See alsoEdit

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