Hong Kong: Former Apple Daily employee arrested while trying to leave Hong Kong

Police arrested former senior editorial writer Fung Wai-kong, who worked for the recently shutdown pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily at Hong Kong International Airport on June 27. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate, the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) condemn the police’s arrest of Fung.

Apple Daily journalists hold copies of the newspaper's last edition next to supporters gathered outside their office in Hong Kong on June 24, 2021. Credit: Daniel SUEN / AFP

While boarding a flight to the United Kingdom, police arrested Fung on suspicion of colluding with “foreign countries or foreign forces to endanger national security”. Fung had written for Apple Daily since 1997 until his recent resignation, publishing his last column on June 21. 

The arrest follows the recent announcement on June 23 of Apple Daily’s shutdown that was preceded by Hong Kong authorities freezing Apple Daily’s parent company, Next Digital’s assets and the arrest of five Apple Daily executives during police raids of Next Digital’s offices on June 17. The executives were arrested under Article 29 of the National Security Law prohibiting “collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security.”

Fung’s arrest makes him the seventh Apple Daily employee to be arrested since the June 17 raid. Another Apple Daily editorial writer, Yeung Ching-kee, who wrote under the pseudonym, Li Ping was arrested on the same charge as Fung on June 23 and released on bail on June 25.  

Next Digital founder Jimmy Lai is currently in prison on alleged fraud charges under the National Security Law and is also serving a 14-month prison sentence after a court found him guilty in April 2021 of allegedly organizing and taking part in illegal demonstrations in 2019.

According to a South China Morning Post source, Hong Kong’s police have a watch list of residents under investigation for alleged violations of the National Security Law who will intercept and arrest if they attempt to leave the city. 

On the same day as Fung’s arrest, another pro-democracy news website, Stand News, announced it would remove opinion pieces and columns to reduce the risks associated with the National Security Law. 

The HKJA said: “The police have repeatedly ignored the voices of the public and the industry, and they want to arrest journalists by using the words ‘National Security’.” HKJA added, “the recent series of incidents had almost completely buried the freedom of the press in Hong Kong.”

The IFJ said: “The recent arrests of Apply Daily employees under the National Security Law makes it clear the Beijing-imposed law is intended to burden freedom of speech and expression. The IFJ is deeply concerned by the impacts of the law and the culture of self-censorship that is growing in Hong Kong as a result. The IFJ urge authorities to repeal the National Security Law and to ensure that Fung and others who have been charged under the National Security Law are released.”  

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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