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‘China ‘targeting dissenting voices’ in Hong Kong’

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London [UK], June 17 (ANI): UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Thursday accused China of targeting dissenting voices in Hong Kong after the authorities of the semi-autonomous region arrested the chief editor and four directors of a pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper under draconian security law on suspicion of conspiracy to collude with foreign forces.

Taking to Twitter, Raab said freedom of the press should be respected by China as promised under the Joint Declaration signed by the two sides.

“Today’s raids and arrests at Apple Daily in Hong Kong demonstrate Beijing is using the National Security Law to target dissenting voices, not tackle public security. Freedom of the press is one of the rights China promised to protect in the Joint Declaration and should be respected,” Raab said in a tweet.

The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported that the National Security Police officers also raided their homes to gather evidence and held all of the accused for questioning. However, none of them have been charged yet.

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Chief editor Ryan Law Wai-kwong was taken away by the police from his residence in Quarry Bay. More than 100 police officers also swooped on the headquarters of Next Digital in Tseung Kwan O.

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The morning operation marks the second series of arrests involving senior executives at the newspaper. Last August, the force arrested the group’s founder, Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, and nine others, including his son, for suspected national security or fraud offences.

Lai is currently behind bars for his role in three separate unauthorised assemblies in 2019 and last year. Since Lai was sentenced in April, speculation has grown that the days are numbered for Apple Daily, the tabloid he launched in 1995.

In April, the pro-Beijing Ta Kung Pao newspaper published a commentary, saying the tabloid should be banned, considering its long-standing role in promoting “Hong Kong independence”, said the SCMP.

Apple Daily was dealt a further blow last month after the authorities, making use of powers granted under the national security law, ordered Lai’s shares in Next Digital to be frozen, along with assets in the local bank accounts of three companies he owned. (ANI)

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