The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) arrested the founder of Hong Kong’s Apple Daily newspaper, Jimmy Lai, and other prominent defenders of democracy in the city, under the controversial security aw.

In addition to Lai, two of his sons were arrested; Cheung Kim-hung, CEO of Next Digital, the parent company of Apple Daily; executive Chow Tat-kuen, an independent worker at British ITV and former member of the student activist group Scholarism; and Andy Li, a member of an election monitoring group, reported the South China Morning Post on Aug. 10.

In another raid, Agnes Chow Ting, a close collaborator of former student leader Joshua Wong Chi-fung, and two other activists were detained on charges of “collusion with a foreign country, uttering seditious words and conspiracy to defraud,” the South China Morning Post quoted a CCP agent as saying.

After Lai’s arrest, more than 200 police took over the newspaper’s headquarters and confiscated documents and laptops.

Pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung denounced the attack through his Twitter account.

“Can you imagine if The New York Times or the Guardian newsrooms you’ll find something like this? After the Hong Kong police arrested Jimmy Lai, hundreds of police officers were sent to the Apple Daily office without a search warrant,” tweeted Wong.

“This is the end of press freedom and the darkest day for journalists,” Wong added in another of his tweets, adding that the CCP banned international coverage of the persecution, and only news approved by the CCP could be published.

Among other measures pushed by the CCP were tightening control over the media, carefully reviewing visa applications from foreign correspondents, replacing the news chiefs of credible television providers, and shutting down local media outlets, Wong also reported.

Lai had met with the United States Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in 2019. Immediately after his arrest, several businessmen promised to support him financially and the value of Apple Daily shares tripled.

Minister for Asia at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Nigel Adams was concerned about the arrests and considered them a move against the opposition to the CCP in Hong Kong, in one of his tweets.

“Deeply concerned about the arrest of Jimmy Lai and 6 others in Hong Kong” wrote Adams.

“The freedom of the media must be respected. More evidence that the national security law is being used as a pretext to silence the opposition,” he added.

“The Hong Kong authorities must defend the rights and freedoms of their people,” Adams concluded in his message. 

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