Press Freedom Under Threat In Hong Kong

I went down to the 7-11 below my building to pick up the latest Apple Daily Newspaper. There was a line up to get in. All were carrying a copy. There were stacks of them around, and they were going quickly. Some customers were buying them ten at a time. It was 7 in the morning. At a local canteen, there were stacks of them for free for anyone to take one and pass it around for free. The owner had bought them to support his home.

Lining up to get a newspaper.

Yesterday was a dark day for Journalism in Hong Kong. The police, using the new  National Security Law, arrested the publisher of Apple Daily Jimmy Lai. Then over 200 police officers went to news offices to investigate and arrest others. Mr. Lai was in handcuffs as the police looked through everything without lawyers present. Under the new laws, the accused don’t get the right to a lawyer. They don’t get any protection. Those prosecuted are guilty until proven innocent with the state deciding. Media was allowed in but only those with ties to the Mainland Government. The rest of the journalists had to watch on video and were not allowed to ask questions. These are the new realities of reporting in Hong Kong.

This day has been coming for a long time. Mr. Lai has been saying for the past few weeks, he will be arrested, so it is not a surprise. He wrote in an opinion piece for the New York Times: “I have always thought I might one day be sent to jail for my publications or for my calls for democracy in Hong Kong. But for a few tweets, and because they are said to threaten the national security of mighty China? That’s a new one, even for me.”

Hong Kongers reacted by buying stocks sending the publisher Next Media up over 200%. Everyone bought shares to show their support. Then there was a call saying the best way to support the paper was to buy the paper. Today there were none left. Walking around the city, everyone had a copy of it. I bought one in the city, but I can’t read any Chinese. The point was to show support for my adoptive land.

A stack of newspapers, outside a restaurant for anyone to take for free.

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