Hong Kong police arrested an ex-journalist of the now-defunct Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily on Sunday as he attempted to fly out of the city, the Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) reported Monday.
Hong Kong police confirmed to HKFP that “a man had been detained for conspiring to collude with foreign forces” but did not provide further information or identify the man. The Hong Kong police issued a statement on June 28 saying it had arrested a 37-year-old man on June 27 for “conspiring to collude with foreign countries or foreign forces to endanger national security,” according to Reuters.
Local news site HKO1 identified the man as Feng Weiguang (Fung Wai-kong), who served as an editor and columnist for the pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily before the Hong Kong government forced the publication to shut down on June 24, citing alleged national security violations.
“Feng Weiguang (pen name: Lu Feng), the former chief writer and executive editor in chief of the English edition [of Apple Daily], was reportedly arrested by the National Security Office of the [Hong Kong] police while preparing to leave Hong Kong for the UK [United Kingdom] at the Hong Kong International Airport [sic],” local news site HKO1 reported on June 28.
“At 2 o’clock in the morning on Monday (28th), he was detained from the airport police station with his hands locked behind his hands and escorted to a [police] unit in [the Hong Kong area of] Sha Tin for search [sic],” HK01 detailed.
If confirmed, Feng’s arrest would mark the seventh such detention of an ex-Apple Daily staffer on national security grounds over the past two weeks.
“Around 500 national security and uniformed police raided Next Digital’s headquarters … on Thursday [June 17], arresting … company executives on suspicion of ‘colluding with foreign powers to endanger national security’ and freezing H.K.$18 million of the group’s assets,” Radio Free Asia reported on June 21.
The Hong Kong-based media company Next Digital owns Apple Daily, whose Taiwanese edition remains in print. The Hong Kong Police Force arrested Next Digital’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Cheung Kim-hung along with its Chief Operating Officer (COO) Royston Chow, on June 17 as part of the raid. Apple Daily’s Editor-in-Chief Ryan Law, Associate Publisher Chan Pui-man, and online manager Cheung Chi-wai, were also arrested on June 17. Hong Kong police further arrested ex-Apple Daily editorial writer Yeung Ching-kei on June 23.
The Hong Kong Police Force said it raided Next Digital’s headquarters on June 17 in connection with roughly 30 articles published by Apple Daily as early as 2019 that allegedly “called for sanctions to be imposed on Beijing or Hong Kong,” HKFP reported on June 28. Hong Kong police accused Apple Daily of “collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security” at the time of the raid.
China’s ruling Communist Party imposed a “national security law” on Hong Kong last June that created four new offenses: collusion with foreign forces, secession, subversion, and terrorism. The crimes are punishable by a minimum of ten years in prison and a maximum life prison sentence. Observers believe China designed the national security law to quell a pro-democracy protest movement in Hong Kong that had pervaded the city for a year prior to the legislation’s passing.