Hong Kong newspaper prints 500,000 copies in face of Chinese crackdown

Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily printed 500,000 copies on Friday, five times more than usual, a day after Chinese authorities arrested five editors and executives for allegedly conspiring with foreign governments to endanger national security, according to The Associated Press.

The front page prominently featured images of the editors and executives handcuffed and led away by police.

Members of other media outlets were invited to watch the Friday edition roll off the presses, and Hong Kong residents stood in line to buy the pro-democracy paper, some specifically to protest the arrests.

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“There are lots of injustices in Hong Kong already. I think there are a lot of things we cannot do anymore,” Lisa Cheung told the AP. “Buying a copy is all what we can do. When the law cannot protect Hong Kong people anymore, we are only left to do what we can.”

Chinese authorities on Friday charged two of those arrested under a national security law imposed in the wake of massive pro-democracy protests that rocked Hong Kong in 2019.

It was the first time, the AP said, the law has been used to directly target a media outlet.

Authorities would not name the men, but the South China Morning Post newspaper said they were Apply Daily’s chief editor Ryan Law and Cheung Kim-hung, the CEO of Apple Daily’s publisher Next Digital. They are expected to appear in court Saturday.

After the raid and arrests, Security Minister John Lee threatened other journalists, saying any media “in cahoots” with the Apple Daily would pay a price.

Thursday’s arrests came a month after Chinese authorities sentenced the founder of Apple Daily, Jimmy Lai, to 14 months in prison for helping organize an unauthorized October 2019 pro-democracy rally in Hong Kong.

A month prior, they sentenced him to a separate 14-month term for attending and organizing an August 2019 demonstration.