Hong Kong police have arrested a former senior journalist with the closest Apple Daily on Sunday night (June 27th) for a suspected national security offense as he tried to catch a flight out of town, media reported.
Police, who usually do not identify the detainees, said in a statement that a 57-year-old man was arrested at the airport for “conspiring to ally with foreign countries or foreign forces to endanger national security”. The man was taken into custody and investigations are ongoing, police said.
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The Hong Kong media recognized the man as Fung Wai-kong, author and columnist in the most closed newspaper. If confirmed, it would be A seventh employee of the pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily was arrested for national security reasons in recent weeks.
Reuters could not independently confirm that Fung was arrested. She could not be reached for comment and it was not immediately clear if she had legal representation.
The Hong Kong government did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Next Digital, the publisher of Apple Daily, did not immediately respond to an email asking for comment.
The Apple Daily, a popular tabloid, was forced to fold after 500 police officers raided its headquarters on June 17 and froze key assets and bank accounts. It printed its final version last Thursday.
Authorities say dozens of newspaper articles may have violated a national security law imposed by Beijing on the economic hub last year, the first example of authorities targeting media reports under the law.
Critics of the law, passed last June, say it has been used to stifle dissent and erode fundamental freedoms in the former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
Authorities say the law has restored stability after months of violent pro-democracy protests.
Officials in Hong Kong and China have repeatedly said that media freedoms are respected but not absolute and can not endanger national security. Police say the crackdown on Apple Daily is not targeting the media industry as a whole.
Hong Kong Prime Minister Carrie Lam said last week that criticism of the newspaper’s attack was tantamount to trying to “beautify” acts that endangered national security. Chinese officials have denounced the criticism as an intervention.
The closure of Apple Daily is the latest blow to media mogul Jimmy Lai, a newspaper owner and fierce Beijing critic whose assets have been frozen under the law and who is serving prison sentences for attending illegal meetings. .
Lai is also awaiting trial under national security law after being accused of colluding with foreign powers. If convicted, he could face up to life in prison.
The Hong Kong Journalists’ Union, reacting to reports of the airport arrest, condemned the police for targeting journalists again and asked them to explain the incident.
The closure of Apple Daily dropped just fine in the middle of the city.
The pro-democracy online store, Stand News, said late Sunday that it would stop accepting monthly donations from readers and had removed comments from the platform.
She said in a Facebook post that her action was aimed at protecting supporters, writers and editorial staff and reducing the risks of all parties, adding that “speech crimes” had come to Hong Kong. Not edited.
Lam Yin-pong, publisher of Stand News, told Reuters that the precaution was partly a response to the arrests on the Apple Daily.
“He was one of the main motivators,” he said. “But taking these precautions does not mean we think we have done something illegal.”
He said most Stand News employees would continue to report independently and had not heard specific warnings from authorities.
Founded in 2014, Stand News said most of its directors, including barrister Margaret Ng and singer Denise Ho, had resigned.
There will remain two founding directors, Tony Choi and editor-in-chief Chang Pui-quen, he said.
The management of Stand News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
His charter states that he will be independent, autonomous and non-profit. It says Stand News is committed to upholding Hong Kong’s core values of “democracy, human rights, the rule of law and justice”.