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HK police raid pro-democracy news outlet, arrest 6.
On Monday, Hong Kong police raided the offices of pro-democracy news outlet Apple Daily and arrested six of its executives. The move is the latest in a series of crackdowns on dissent in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.
The police accused the executives of “conspiring to collude with foreign forces” under the controversial national security law imposed by Beijing last year. The law criminalizes acts of secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces, and carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
The police also froze HK$18 million ($2.3 million) of assets belonging to three companies linked to Apple Daily, including its parent company Next Digital. The move effectively paralyzes the newspaper’s operations, as it relies heavily on advertising revenue to sustain its operations.
The arrests have sparked outrage among pro-democracy activists and journalists, who see it as a blatant attack on press freedom and free speech. Apple Daily is known for its critical coverage of the Hong Kong government and Beijing’s policies, and has been a thorn in the side of the authorities for years.
The newspaper’s founder, media tycoon Jimmy Lai, is currently serving a 20-month prison sentence for his role in the 2019 pro-democracy protests. He has been a vocal critic of Beijing’s encroachment on Hong Kong’s autonomy and has called for international support for the city’s pro-democracy movement.
The arrests also come just days after the Hong Kong government announced sweeping changes to the city’s electoral system, which critics say will further erode democratic freedoms and give Beijing greater control over the city’s political landscape.
The changes include reducing the number of directly elected seats in the legislature, expanding the power of pro-Beijing committees to vet candidates, and giving the chief executive more power to appoint lawmakers.
The move has been condemned by the international community, with the US, UK, and EU all issuing statements expressing concern over the erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy and democratic freedoms.
The arrests of Apple Daily executives are likely to further fuel tensions between Hong Kong and Beijing, and raise concerns about the future of press freedom in the city. The international community must continue to speak out against these attacks on democracy and hold Beijing accountable for its actions.