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Apple Daily executives face national security charges in Hong Kong court

Two newspaper officials have been accused of colluding with foreign powers, raising concerns about media freedom in the financial center.

Earlier on Saturday, a crowd gathered outside a Hong Kong court. Two executives from the pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily faced charges under Hong Kong’s fully enforced national security law. The case attracted condemnation from the international community.

The 47-year-old editor-in-chief Ron and the 59-year-old chief executive Zhang Jinxiong, On Thursday, when 500 policemen raided the newsroom of Apple Daily, five Apple Daily executives were arrested, The authorities described it as a “crime scene.”

The two arrived in a police car before the hearing.

Both were accused of colluding with foreign powers, and as the authorities stepped up their crackdowns under controversial legislation, it has raised concerns about media freedom in the financial center.

According to Apple Daily, the other three, namely chief operating officer Zhou Daquan, deputy editor-in-chief Chen Peiman and editor-in-chief Zhang Zhiwei, were released on bail late on Friday.

“For personal and security reasons, I have left the Apple Daily,” said 37-year-old Chen, a former reporter for the Apple Daily.

“I hope the two accused can think about themselves first. They also have their families. I have worked with them before. We are like friends.”

‘Don’t be afraid, keep fighting’

The National Security Act implemented by Beijing on this former British colony in 2020 brought an authoritarian tone to most aspects of Hong Kong life, including education and the arts.

It punishes what Beijing broadly refers to as secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces, with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

The police said dozens of articles in the newspaper were suspected of violating national security laws-this is the first time a media article has been cited as a possible violation of national security laws.

At dawn on Saturday, the crowd gathered outside the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court. Some people were holding yellow umbrellas or wearing Apple Daily T-shirts and said, “Don’t be afraid, keep fighting.”

“Now, you may be accused of being an NSL for words or speeches they don’t like. This is a big step backwards,” said 29-year-old Luo, a reader of the 26-year-old popular newspaper.

Western countries, global human rights organizations, press associations, and the chief human rights spokesperson of the United Nations have all criticized the arrest and scale of the Apple Daily raid.

Apple Daily and its listed publisher Next Digital have been under increasing pressure since their owners. Democracy activist and staunch Beijing critic Lai Zhixing, Was arrested under legislation last year.

According to the National Security Law, Lai’s assets have been frozen, and he has been in jail for participating in an unauthorized assembly and awaiting trial in a national security case.

With more and more investigations into the “Apple Daily” and its executives, some employees and observers have expressed growing concerns about the paper’s future.

Since Beijing implemented the law in June last year, more than 100 people have been arrested, most of whom have been refused bail.

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