IFJ condemns, calls for immediate release of Apple Daily staff arrested in Hong Kong

KUALA LUMPUR, June 18 – The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned and called for the immediate release of five executives of Hong Kong’s newspaper Apple Daily who were arrested by the Hong Police on Wednesday.

In a statement posted on its website, the IFJ described the arrest as “an outrageous attack on a voice for independence and democracy in Hong Kong and follows a sustained campaign of intimidation against Apple Daily since the National Security Law was imposed upon the people of Hong Kong…This attack defies all international human rights principles and represents a dire low point in Hong Kong’s media history. Journalism is not a crime.”

According to IFJ, the Hong Kong police raided the pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily and arrested five senior executives on June 17. All were charged under the controversial national security law and accused of colluding with foreign forces to endanger national security. 

It said 500 police officers descended into the Apple Daily offices in Tseung Kwan O to arrest the company’s chief executive officer, Cheung Kim-hung; chief operating officer, Royston Chow; chief editor, Ryan Law; associate publisher, Chan Pui-man; and the platform director of Apple Daily Digital, Cheung Chi-wai.

Journalists’ materials within the office were also seized during the raid and an estimated US$2.32million of assets belonging to Apple Daily, Apple Publishing, and A.D. Internet Limited were frozen.

The Apple Daily executives are accused of breaking Article 29 of the national security law, which prohibits ” collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security.

Hong Kong’s senior superintended of its national security unit, Steve Li, accused Apple Daily of publishing 30 articles, in both Chinese and English, that allegedly pursued foreign sanctions since 2019.

IFJ said that since the law was implemented in June 2020, it has been used to arrest over 100 pro-democracy figures. Apple Daily founder, Jimmy Lai, was arrested in August 2020 on suspicion of violating the national security law. Lai faced two further charges on counts of organising an unauthorised assembly, for which he pleaded guilty following his participation in mass pro-democracy protests. Lai is now serving a 20-month prison sentence.