We expressed shock over the arrest of Apple Daily senior executives and the massive raid at their offices in Tseung Kwan O headquarters today. We feel shock not just because of its scale, which is much bigger than the one in August last year, but the remarks made by government officials. Security for Secretary John Lee cited the publication of dozens of articles by the newspaper as evidence of a breach of the national security law. His remarks spread fear and panic among journalists.
The case raises grave concern about the use of NSL as a weapon to prosecute media executives and journalists for publishing reports and articles that are deemed as a threat to national security. It poses a serious threat to freedom of the press.
In the course of the raid, 500 officers seized and searched journalist material, phones and computers. They did so with a court warrant.
The way the Police enforced the law and the court issued the warrant have seriously undermined the protection of journalist material by journalists, which is vital in upholding press freedom. We fear it will create a chilling effect in society. People will feel unsafe, uneasy talking to the media. Self-censorship will get worse if journalists are not sure whether they are able to protect their sources.
We urge the Government to give more details of the case as soon as possible to allay fears about freedom of the press and freedom of expression.
Hong Kong Journalists Association
Hong Kong Press Photographers Association
Independent Commentators Association
Journalism Educators for Press Freedom
Ming Pao Staff Association
Next Media Trade Union
RTHK Programme Staff Union
CitizenNews Staff Union
17 June 2021