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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Law enforcement officials from the nationwide safety division escort Apple Day by day’s Chief Govt Officer Cheung Kim-hung from the workplaces of Apple Day by day and Subsequent Media in Hong Kong, China June 17, 2021. REUTERS/Lam Yik

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By Jessie Pang

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Crowds gathered outdoors a Hong Kong courtroom early on Saturday forward of a listening to for 2 executives of pro-democracy newspaper Apple (NASDAQ:) Day by day charged underneath the town’s sweeping nationwide safety legislation, in a case that has drawn worldwide condemnation.

Editor-in-chief Ryan Regulation, 47, and chief govt Cheung Kim-hung, 59, had been amongst 5 Apple Day by day executives arrested on Thursday when 500 police raided the outlet’s newsroom, which authorities described as a “crime scene.”

Each are charged with collusion with international powers, elevating alarm over media freedoms within the monetary hub as authorities intensify a crackdown underneath the contentious laws.

The opposite three, Chief Working Officer Chow Tat-kuen, Deputy Chief Editor Chan Puiman and Chief Govt Editor Cheung Chi-wai, had been launched on bail late on Friday, in keeping with Apple Day by day.

“I already left Apple Day by day as a result of private and security causes,” mentioned Chan, 37, a former Apple Day by day reporter.

“I hope the 2 being charged can take into consideration themselves first. Additionally they have their households. I labored with them earlier than. We’re like pals.”

The nationwide safety legislation imposed by Beijing in 2020 on the previous British colony has introduced an authoritarian tone to most features of life in Hong Kong, together with training and humanities.

It punishes what Beijing broadly refers to as secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with international forces with as much as life in jail.

Police mentioned dozens of the newspaper’s articles had been suspected of violating the nationwide safety legislation – the primary time media articles have been cited as doubtlessly falling foul of the laws.

Crowds gathered at daybreak on Saturday outdoors West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts, some holding yellow umbrellas or carrying Apple Day by day T-shirts saying, “No concern, battle on.”

“Proper now, you could be charged with NSL due to a phrase or a speech that they did not like. It’s an enormous regression,” Lo, 29, a reader of the favored, 26-year-old paper, mentioned.

The arrests and scale of the Apple Day by day raid have been criticised by Western nations, international rights teams, press associations and the chief U.N. spokesperson for human rights.

Apple Day by day and its listed writer Subsequent Digital have come underneath growing strain since their proprietor, pro-democracy activist and staunch Beijing critic Jimmy Lai, was arrested final yr underneath the laws.

Lai, whose belongings have been frozen underneath the safety legislation, is already in jail for collaborating in unauthorised assemblies and awaiting trial in his nationwide safety case.

As investigations into Apple Day by day and its senior executives ramp up, some staff and observers have expressed deepening concern over the newspaper’s future.

For the reason that legislation was imposed by Beijing in June final yr, greater than 100 folks have been arrested, with most denied bail.

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