Hong Kong police arrest editorial writer at Apple Daily newspaper
The editorial writer for Hong Kong’s Apple Daily newspaper has been arrested, the latest move in a media crackdown under the national security law that saw hundreds of police raid its newsroom and arrest senior figures last week.
Police confirmed the arrest of a 55-year-old man in Tseung Kwan O on Wednesday morning, “on suspicion of conspiring to collude with foreign countries or foreign forces to endanger national security”.
He was later identified by the pro-democracy Apple Daily as its lead opinion writer, who publishes under the name Li Ping.
Li is the first known arrest of a writer connected to the police operation launched on Thursday last week. Authorities said the five arrested executives, including editor-in-chief Ryan Law and chief executive Cheung Kim-hung, who were later charged, were responsible for more than 30 articles that called for foreign sanctions against the Hong Kong and Chinese governments.
Police would not specify which articles were deemed acts of foreign collusion, but said some dated back to 2019, well before the June 2020 implementation of the law, which is not supposed to be retroactive.
Li has written numerous comment pieces for Apple Daily, criticising government crackdowns on the pro-democracy movement and the media. After the arrest of Apple Daily’s founder and owner, Jimmy Lai, last year, Li said Beijing was venting its anger over US sanctions by targeting Hong Kong media and people.
In an April column, Li criticised the prosecution of producer Bao Choy at broadcaster RTHK, who had accessed a publicly available database as part of her research into an infamous attack on protesters in Yuen Long in 2019.
Under the headline “Freedom, once an everyday commodity, now a luxury”, Li accused authorities of seeking to intimidate the press, by “using all sorts of legislative and judicial means to try to silence Hong Kong’s journalists and push media outlets to close down voluntarily”.
The board of Apple Daily’s parent company, Next Digital Media, has said if authorities do not release the paper’s funds and accounts, frozen as part of the operation, they will be forced to shut down on Friday. Apple Daily has already shut down its financial news and English language services and its nightly online broadcast, and a number of staff have already resigned. Saturday’s paper is expected to be its last.