Jimmy Lai’s Apple Daily newspaper prints half a million copies in defiance of founder’s arrest in Hong Kong

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In a statement posted on its verified Facebook page, the publication said it produced 550,000 copies on Tuesday, an increase from its normal circulation of around 70,000 copies. In an article published on Monday, he urged Hong Kongers to buy the paper and show their support, a message apparently heard by many who were seen queuing for copies.

Lai was arrested on Monday on suspicion of “collusion” with foreign forces, local police said. The offense was created by a new national security law imposed on the city by Beijing last month.

Police said at least nine other people were also arrested on Monday during national security operations. Two of Lai’s sons were among them. A livestream uploaded to Facebook by Apple Daily on the same day showed police officers rummaging in the company’s newsroom.

On Tuesday, the newspaper’s front page featured an image of Lai being arrested, and the headline: “Apple Daily Must Keep Operations. It also included a statement that the newspaper condemned – and was “deeply angry” – about the police operations.

Next Digital, the newspaper’s parent company, also pledged to “keep fighting.””Press freedom in Hong Kong hangs by a thread,” he said in a statement. “Apple Daily staff will remain fearless and continue to speak the truth in the midst of the persecution. ”

Police said in a statement Monday that officers from their new national security department conducted the search after a “full investigation” and with a warrant issued by a magistrate.

Those arrested were suspected of “collusion” with foreign forces to endanger national security and “conspiracy to defraud,” police said in a statement.

Authorities noted that the investigation was continuing and that further arrests could be made.

A spokesperson for the Chinese Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Bureau, which is headed by the country’s State Council, also spoke out on the issue on Monday, saying he “strongly supports” Jimmy’s arrests. Lai and others arrested.

“People who have colluded with foreign forces to endanger national security should be severely punished under the law,” the representative said in a statement.

The arrest raised concerns about the future of Hong Kong media.

“A month or two ago, no one thought that in Hong Kong the media could be searched in this way,” Hong Kong Journalists Association chairman Chris Yeung said on Monday.

“We never thought that could happen in Hong Kong,” he added. ” It’s very sad. ”

The Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) also condemned Lai’s arrest and the raid on Apple Daily, calling it “a direct assault on press freedom in Hong Kong.”

The Chinese Foreign Ministry’s commissioner’s office in Hong Kong criticized the FCC, accusing it of “dirtying” local police.

The office accused the organization of trying to “clear and justify Jimmy Lai and other criminal suspects.”

“Violators will be held accountable and no one will be above the law,” the office said Tuesday.

Correction: An earlier version of this report incorrectly attributed a statement by the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China in Hong Kong to another agency.

Vanesse Chan and James Griffiths contributed to this report.

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