Hong Kong police have charged four former Apple Daily journalists with collusion weeks after the pro-democracy newspaper was forced to close because city government officials froze its assets.
Among those detained Wednesday was the paper’s executive editor-in-chief Lam Man-chung, who became the eighth journalist from Apple Daily arrested in recent weeks as authorities have continued to crack down on dissent throughout the city. Associate publisher and deputy chief editor Chan Pui-man and editorial writers Fung Wai-kong and Yeung Ching-kee were also arrested again Wednesday after their bail was revoked.
“Whoever committed an offense will be arrested, disregarding their background, whatever they do, or what are their professions,” said Hong Kong security minister Chris Tang. “It doesn’t really matter. If they committed an offense, they will be arrested. And if there is any evidence, they will be prosecuted.”
According to the Associated Press, “All four were charged with conspiring to ‘collude with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security’ under the city’s year-old national security law.” They will be brought to West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court for a hearing on Thursday morning.
Last month, police raided Apple Daily headquarters, which resulted in the arrest of five top executives and the freezing of HK$18 million (USD $2.3 million) worth of assets of three companies linked to the newspaper. Unable to finance operations, the paper shut down days later.
The paper’s founder Jimmy Lai was arrested in August 2020 with charges relating to unauthorized assembly during the 2019 pro-democracy protests and alleged collusion with foreign forces.
Implemented by the Chinese Communist Party in June 2020 following months of anti-government protests, the national security law introduced potential life imprisonment and extradition to the mainland for offenses related to “secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces.” More than 100 pro-democracy supporters have since been arrested under the law.