HK democracy supporters snap up Apple Daily copies

Copies of pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily flew off the shelves of Hong Kong kiosks on Friday (June 18).

As Hong Kong police charged the paper's chief editor and chief executive with collusion with a foreign country to endanger national security.

Officers raided the company's newsroom and arrested senior staff members on Thursday (June 17) -

All part of an inquiry into whether some of its articles threatened China's national security.

The 26-year-old paper, which combines liberal discourse with celebrity gossip and investigations of those in power, increased its Friday press run to 500,000 copies, up from 80,000 the previous day.

"I am here to buy Apple Daily because of what the police did yesterday. I think I have to support them in any case. I've paid Apple Daily's monthly subscription fee, but I think I will still continue to take part in these activities to help them. I want to support freedom of speech because they have not done anything wrong."

Police arrested five executives over allegations of "collusion with a foreign country or with external elements" to endanger national security.

They also froze more than $2 million of assets owned by three companies linked to the paper.

It was the second time police had raided the newsroom after the arrest of media tycoon Jimmy Lai last year.

Rose Luqui, an assistant professor at Hong Kong Baptist University explains what the ramifications of the raids will be.

"Of course, it will have a definite impact on the press freedom here in Hong Kong. Because first of all, it will create a chilling effect, although the government denies that. But think about that, if you were a journalist working for a news media, you will be scared."

China's Foreign Commissioner's Office said in a statement the national security law protected press freedom, while warning "external forces" to "keep their hands off Hong Kong."

The EU and Britain said the raid showed China was using the National Security law to crack down on dissent, rather than deal with public security.

The World Association of News Publishers and the World Editors Forum called in a joint statement for the immediate release of Apple Daily staff and the unfreezing of the company's assets.

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