Apple Daily editorial writer arrested while trying to leave Hong Kong
An editorial writer of the now-defunct Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily was arrested at the airport while attempting to leave the city, local media reported Monday.
The South China Morning Post and online news outlet Citizen News cited unidentified sources saying that editorial writer Fung Wai-kong was arrested Sunday night on suspicion of foreign collusion to endanger national security.
Fung was believed to be leaving for Britain when he was arrested, local media reported. Police said they arrested a 57-year-old man at the airport Sunday night under Hong Kong’s national security law, but did not identify him.
He is the second Apple Daily editorial writer, and the seventh of the newspaper’s now-former employees, to be arrested in the last two weeks. All were either journalists or executives with the tabloid.
Their arrests are part of Hong Kong authorities’ crackdown on dissent under the Chinese government’s direction. Many of the city’s prominent pro-democracy figures have also been arrested, and Hong Kong’s election laws have been revamped to keep opposition voices out of the legislature.
The Hong Kong Journalists Assn. condemned the police for targeting journalists.
The final edition of Apple Daily, Hong Kong’s last remaining pro-democracy newspaper, sold out in hours as readers scooped up all 1 million copies.
“The HKJA reiterates that freedom of speech and freedom of the press are core values of Hong Kong,” it said in a statement. “If even the writing of the literati cannot be tolerated, it will be difficult for Hong Kong to be regarded as an international city.”
Fung’s reported arrest also comes as pro-democracy online news outlet Stand News said in a statement that it would remove commentaries published on its site before June and halt its fundraising efforts because of concerns over the sweeping national security law.
The measures were taken to protect the news outlet’s supporters, writers and editorial staffers in the “literary inquisition” of Hong Kong, Stand News said in a statement.
Despite the precautionary measures, Stand News pledged to keep reporting the news.
The raid this week of Apple Daily’s newsroom and leadership changes at broadcaster iCable highlight the shrinking space for independent journalism as Beijing exerts more control over a once freewheeling Hong Kong.
“In the past six and a half years, the Stand News team has been through trials and hardships with the people of Hong Kong, cherishing each other and weaving the common memory of Hong Kong’s survival,” it said. “To pass on these memories, we will stick to our posts, walk with the people of Hong Kong … and write and record the news and happenings in Hong Kong.”
The online news platform said it would stop taking money from subscribers and donors and stop accepting new subscriptions to prevent the risk of money going to waste. Under the national security law, assets can be frozen if authorities believe the money is linked to crime.
Earlier this month, authorities froze $2.3 million worth of assets linked to the Apple Daily. Last week, Apple Daily printed its final edition and ceased operations, citing employee safety and an inability to pay wages.
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