HONG KONG: The pro-Democracy Apple Daily newspaper saw its top executives arrested, along with a raid on the newsroom by 500 Hong Kong officers on Thursday.
The Hong Kong police confiscated reporters' phones, computers and notebooks at pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily after authorities said stories published in the newspaper had violated Hong Kong's new national security law.
At approximately dawn, police arrested five newspaper executives. Later, 500 officers entered the newsroom with a warrant to seize journalistic materials, including reporters' phones and laptops.
The newspaper's owner, Jimmy Lai, a critic of Beijing, has had his assets frozen by the government and is serving a prison sentence after being found guilty of taking part in illegal assemblies.
One official, Hong Kong Security Secretary John Lee, described the newsroom as a "crime scene" and said the police were seeking to stop journalists who use reporting as a "tool to endanger" national security.
Police said the arrests of the five executives followed their "use of journalistic work" to incite foreign forces to impose sanctions on Hong Kong and China.
"Normal journalists are different from these people. Don't collude with them," Lee warned reporters.
"Do your journalistic work as freely as you like, in accordance with the law, provided you do not conspire or have any intention to break ... the national security law," added Lee.
Senior police superintendent Li Kwai-wah said materials seized date back to 2019, before the national security law went into effect.
Police have also frozen $2.32 million in assets owned by three companies linked to Apple Daily.
Following the raid, Apple Daily posted a letter to its readers, noting that it was the victim of a "targeted attack by the regime," but that its staff "will continue to stick to their posts loyally and fight to the end."
Apple Daily reported that police seized 38 computers used by its reporters.
The recently passed security law was seen as Beijing's first step in imposing its will on Hong Kong.
The five people arrested were editor-in-chief Ryan Law, chief executive officer Cheung Kim-hung, Chief Operating Officer Chow Tat-kuen, Deputy Chief Editor Chan Puiman and Chief Executive Editor Cheung Chi-wai.