It’s a dark day for journalism as China has arrested Hong Kong media magnate Jimmy Lai along with other high-profile pro-democracy activists and journalists critical of the Chinese communist regime.
The massive crackdown also includes the arrest of pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow, who has been detained under the controversial National Security Law.
Freelance journalist Wilson Li, who worked for UK-based ITV News was also arrested on suspicion of collusion with foreign powers.
The arrests follow China’s total takeover of the Hong Kong government and its institution of a sweeping controversial security law that prohibits “seditious” activities like criticizing President Xi Jinping’s communist regime.
Jimmy Lai’s Apple Daily newspaper has remained highly critical of the Chinese government and its suppression of free speech and protest activity in the former British colony. Hong Kong police raided the Apple Daily newspaper offices on Monday based on charges that the publication was colluding with foreign forces.
Lai’s arrest is the most high-profile under the security law, which went into effect in June. Lai is a prominent supporter of the pro-democracy protests that began in 2019 as China moved to clamp down on personal freedoms in Hong Kong.
Lai, who is a citizen of the United Kingdom, has been described by Chinese state media publication Global Times, a propaganda arm for the Chinese Communist Party, as a “riot supporter.” According to the BBC, the state media company smeared the media magnate with unsubstantiated claims that he is guilty of “instigating hatred, spreading rumours and smearing Hong Kong authorities and the mainland for years.”
Videos of Lai’s arrest and the police raid on the Apple Daily offices were posted on social media on Monday morning, and showed Lai being escorted through the offices in handcuffs.
Hong Kong police confirmed to Global Times that they arrested 10 people in the sweep of the Apple Daily offices. Two of Lai’s sons, as well as two senior executives at Next Digital, which was founded by Lai, were also arrested in the sweep. Posting on Twitter, pro-democracy activist Nathan Law described the arrests as “the end of freedom of press in Hong Kong. The national security law is quashing the freedom of our society, spreading politics of fear.”