HONG KONG • The chief editorial author for the now-closed Apple Day by day newspaper was arrested at Hong Kong’s airport, native media reported, as one other information outlet stated it was taking down articles from its web site amid issues about press freedom within the Asian monetary hub.
Hong Kong police, in the meantime, denied permission for a rally on July 1, the twenty fourth anniversary of the previous British colony’s handover to Chinese language rule, citing Covid-19 restrictions, organisers stated.
Journalist Fung Wai Kong was detained as he tried to go away the town, media together with broadcaster TVB stated on Sunday, citing folks it didn’t determine – making him the seventh individual swept up in a probe into the pro-democracy newspaper.
Hong Kong police stated the town’s nationwide safety division held a 57-year-old man at Hong Kong Worldwide Airport for “conspiracy to collude with international forces to hazard nationwide safety”, with out figuring out Mr Fung.
Individually, on-line pro-democracy outlet Stand Information introduced resignations from its board of administrators on Sunday – together with former pro-democracy politician Margaret Ng and singer-activist Denise Ho.
It could additionally take down some weblog posts, commentaries and reader submissions. The modifications, together with ending a subscription payment, would assist “defend all supporters, authors and editors, and to scale back the dangers of all events”, it stated.
The developments are the most recent indicators of the modified atmosphere for press freedoms in Hong Kong, which has lengthy been assured civil liberties not protected in mainland China, after Beijing imposed a nationwide safety legislation on the town. The federal government credit the legislation with serving to to revive stability and denies rolling again the free-speech protections assured to Hong Kong earlier than its return to Chinese language rule in 1997.
Earlier this month, the authorities arrested Apple Day by day’s three high editors and two executives at writer Subsequent Digital, based by the now-jailed activist and media tycoon Jimmy Lai. Apple Day by day got here beneath money stress from an asset freeze and subsequently stopped publishing final week.
Lai is already serving jail time for his roles in unauthorised protests and is dealing with separate nationwide safety fees on allegations that he colluded with international powers. The accusations in opposition to him are based mostly on his social media posts and feedback to international media retailers, in addition to donations police say he made to advocacy group Stand With Hong Kong, in keeping with court docket filings and native media studies citing police paperwork.
The safety legislation has additionally seen the authorities ship threatening letters to bankers who deal with the accounts of people being prosecuted by the federal government, and has raised issues about whether or not corporations that fall out of favour with the authorities – together with in Beijing – could discover themselves on the fallacious facet of the legislation.
Mr Mark Simon, a senior adviser to Lai, wrote in a Washington Publish op-ed over the weekend that “Apple Day by day did not simply die. It was murdered”, and warned that Hong Kong’s imprecise crimson traces might restrict transparency of native monetary markets.
In the meantime, Hong Kong police yesterday denied permission for the town’s conventional July 1 rally for a second 12 months, citing coronavirus restrictions.
In a discover despatched to the organisers – the League of Social Democrats, Tin Shui Wai Connection, Save Lantau Alliance – police stated that given the principles on gatherings of greater than 4 folks, any rally would trigger “nice threat to residents’ lives and well being, harming public security and affecting others’ rights”.
Police additionally informed the organisers that anybody who defied the ban might face jail of as much as 5 years.
Tens of hundreds of residents have historically marched on July 1 to demand every part from higher democracy to an answer to one of many world’s costliest property markets.
This 12 months’s handover anniversary is especially delicate because it coincides with occasions to mark the centenary of the Chinese language Communist Social gathering, with dozens of Hong Kong officers travelling to Beijing to hitch celebrations.
The organisers stated they might enchantment in opposition to the choice to a board on public conferences and processions. Civil Human Rights Entrance, which has historically arrange the annual rally, stated it will not accomplish that this 12 months on account of administrative difficulties and the town’s political atmosphere.
Final 12 months’s demonstration was banned for the primary time in 17 years, with police additionally citing Covid-19 restrictions. Hundreds defied the ban and took to the streets to protest in opposition to a sweeping nationwide safety legislation imposed on the town simply hours earlier by Beijing.
Critics of the federal government have accused it of utilizing social distancing measures to dam rallies. The federal government rejects the accusation.