Media tycoon, activists among National Security Law arrests . . .
The Hong Kong National Security Law (NSL)’s enforcement continues to broaden a month after its enactment, with Hong Kong police today arresting at least 10 people on NSL-related charges. Jimmy Lai, billionaire tycoon and founder of Next Digital (the media company that publishes the anti-Beijing newspaper, Apple Daily), was arrested along with several senior Next Digital executives early Monday morning. Lai was charged with collusion with foreign powers, a charge punishable by up to life imprisonment. In a second swoop in the afternoon Hong Kong time, police arrested three pro-democracy activists also on charges under the NSL. Monday’s arrests mark the first time that the National Security Law was used against news media.
Freedom of press under pressure . . .
In an unprecedented move, the police – after arresting Lai – sent approximately 200 officers to raid Next Digital’s headquarters. The search lasted for nine hours, during which only pro-government press were allowed near the building. Though the police obtained a search warrant, journalists working on-premise at the time said that some officers violated the terms of the warrant by viewing interview notes containing private information. Chris Yeung, Chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, called Lai’s arrest and the ensuing police raid “white terror” and said that future reporting by other journalists would be significantly affected.
Undeterred by international responses . . .
The weekend saw a flurry of diplomatic activities concerning recent developments in Hong Kong. The U.S. Treasury Department announced on Friday that it would block the properties and assets of 11 Hong Kong and Chinese officials for “undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy.” On Sunday, the governments of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., and the U.S. issued a joint statement expressing “grave concerns” about Hong Kong’s postponement of its legislative elections. Monday’s arrests appear to be a defiant gesture signalling that Beijing and the Hong Kong government will continue to pursue their goals despite recent statements and sanctions.
- The Associated Press: Hong Kong newspaper raided, tycoon detained under new law
- CBC News: Hong Kong, Chinese officials jeer at U.S. sanctions over security law
- Global Affairs Canada: Statement on the erosion of rights in Hong Kong