Next Digital Headquarters in Hong Kong (by Tim Wu via Wikimedia Commons)

At around 7 a.m. today (June 17) the National Security branch of the Hong Kong police raided the headquarters of news media outlet Apple Daily’s parent company Next Digital, detaining 5 executives on charges of violating the National Security Law (NSL).

Apple Daily is known for its staunch pro-democracy stance. Its founder, Jimmy Lai, was arrested and charged in December 2020 under the NSL. He is serving a 20 months’ sentence for his role in three unauthorized protests in 2019. He faces up to life in prison for requesting foreign governments to sanction China’s regime.

About two hundred police took part in the raid. They cordoned off Next Digital HQ. Staff were allowed to enter the building only upon showing their ID and providing personal information such as phone number and address.

The police told Next Digital employees to gather at the restaurant on the 5th floor of the building or to leave. They were not allowed to access other areas of the building and to take pictures.

When the police arrived, there were about 20 employees in the building, including journalists and cleaning staff. They were told to leave their stations and gather in the lobby on the 2nd floor, where they were asked to show their IDs. Afterwards, the cleaners were told to leave, while the journalists were ordered to go to the 5th floor.

Among those arrested were Apple Daily’s chief editor Ryan Law (羅偉光), Next Digital CEO Cheung Kim-hung (張劍虹), Next Digital COO Royston Chow Tat-kuen (周達權), Apple Daily associate publisher Chan Pui-man (陳沛敏), and Apple Daily platform director Cheung Chi-wai (張志偉). They were detained on charges of “colluding with foreign countries or with external forces to endanger national security” (串謀勾結外國或境外勢力危害國家安全罪) under Article 29 of the NSL.

In recent months Chinese Communist Party (CCP) propaganda outlets have called on the Hong Kong authorities to shut down Apple Daily.

Read: Will Hong Kong’s Free Media Be Banned? – How The Crackdown on Free Speech in the Former British Colony Is Intensifying

The Hong Kong police had already raided Apple Daily’s offices on 8 August 2020. They detained Jimmy Lai, his two sons and four executives, and seized documents.

The NSL was passed by the CCP authorities in Beijing in June 2020 to stifle the city’s pro-democracy movement. It has since led to a sweeping crackdown on dissidents, pro-democracy figures and critics of the government.

Read also: The Rise and Decline of Hong Kong – From the British Colonial Era to the Chinese Communist Takeover

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