Apple Daily increases print copies to 500,000 after second police raid

Police officers gather outside the Apple Daily office in Hong Kong this morning

Hong Kong police arrested the chief editor and four executives of pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily on Thursday, raiding its newsroom for a second time in the latest blow to the outspoken tabloid.

Police also froze 18 million Hong Kong dollars ($2.3 million) in assets belonging to three companies linked to Apple Daily, said Li Kwai-wah, a senior superintendent at Hong Kong's National Security Department. They may appear in court as soon as Saturday.

The executives are accused of "foreign collusion" in breach of Article 29 of the China's new National Security Law for Hong Kong.

Police officers stand guard outside Apple Daily headquarters as Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai, who founded local newspaper Apple Daily, was arrested by police at his home in Hong Kong in 2020.

Police said they were acting on evidence.

It was the first time Hong Kong authorities used the law to seize shares of a listed company's majority shareholder.

Lai-who fled China at 12 years old and became one of its fiercest critics-has been serving a separate 14-month sentence for convictions tied to the massive pro-democracy protests that took place in Hong Kong to lash out at what protester saw as Beijing's overreach.

"It is essential that all the existing rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents are fully protected, including freedom of the press and of publication".

The U.S. and Japan also spoke out about the arrests.

He said that the police action against the Apple Daily editors and executives is not related to "normal journalistic work".

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Dr Tedros stressed that "the world needs a stronger global surveillance system to detect new epidemic and pandemic risks". The leaders are expected to discuss measures to end the pandemic.

China says the law was needed to return stability to the worldwide financial hub.

China's Foreign Ministry office in Hong Kong hit back, saying it "firmly opposed the unwarranted remarks made by a very few Western politicians and foreign media organizations, who vilified the Hong Kong police's law enforcement actions".

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), in a tweet, called on President Joe Biden and democracies to condemn "this disgusting attack on the free press" and hold the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) accountable. Sen.

Apple Daily has staunchly backed Hong Kong's pro-democracy cause, including the huge and often violent demonstrations that swept the city in 2019.

This is supposed to protect certain freedoms for Hong Kong: freedom of assembly and speech, an independent judiciary and some democratic rights - freedoms that no other part of mainland China has. "Distance yourself from them, otherwise all you are left with are regrets".

Apple's labor union, meanwhile, condemned the authorities for "severely infringing on press freedom, using the national security law as pretext", warning of the dangers of criminalizing reporting of news after the fact.

In response, the U.S. has imposed sanctions on Hong Kong and Chinese officials, including the city leader Carrie Lam, accusing them of undermining Hong Kong's autonomy.

Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also said the raid was aimed at silencing dissent.

Trading in the shares of Next Digital was halted Thursday morning, according to a notice on the Hong Kong stock exchange.

Those arrested Thursday included Apple Daily's chief editor Ryan Law; the CEO of its publisher Next Digital, Cheung Kim-hung; the publisher's chief operating officer; and two other top editors, according to the newspaper.

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