Hong Kong, June 18 (ANI): Despite a massive raid on the pro-democracy Apple Daily, the Hong Kong tabloid, continued its operations and printed 500,000 copies of Friday's paper while warning the readers that the city's "press freedom is now hanging by a thread".
On Thursday, five senior executives were arrested on suspicion of violating the national security law after its headquarters were raided by the police, Hong Kong Free Press reported. At least 44 computers and hard disks were seized by police during Thursday's operation involving 500 officers, the tabloid said.
In an open letter published to its readers, the paper said: "After five hours of investigation, police confiscated a large number of items, including 38 computers of journalists, which contained considerable journalistic materials. Hong Kong's press freedom is now hanging by a thread."
"The law enforcement has labelled journalistic materials that were gathered openly as evidence of crime; while the regime has publicly called on journalists to keep a distance from fellow media workers, who are merely doing their jobs," the letter reads.
Hong Kong police on Thursday had arrested the chief editor and four directors of a pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper under draconian Hong Kong security law on suspicion of conspiracy to collude with foreign forces.
The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported that the National Security Police officers also raided their homes to gather evidence and held all of the accused for questioning. However, none of them have been charged yet.
Chief Editor Ryan Law Wai-kwong was taken away by the police from his residence in Quarry Bay. More than 100 police officers also swooped on the headquarters of Next Digital in Tseung Kwan O.
Hong Kong's security chief John Lee warned fellow journalists to shun five arrested executives, following a raid on the newsroom by hundreds of police.
"Ordinary journalists are different, and should not get involved with them, keep a distance from them," Lee told a press conference. "I hereby solemnly declare that: don't associate with these criminals endangering national security, you will pay a hefty price if [you] stand with these criminals, [you] should cut ties with these criminals before it's too late to repent."
Meanwhile, several countries including the US and UK condemned these arrests and termed it as an attempt to throttle free press. (ANI)