The police confirmed in a statement that the man was arrested by its National Security department and said that he was suspected of collusion with a foreign country to endanger national security.
He was not named by the police, but local media have identified him as Lee Man-chung, executive editor-in-chief of Apple Daily. He is the eighth Apple Daily staff member to be arrested after an initial round-up of five executives and the subsequent arrest of two editorial writers.
The paper, part of Next Digital, had its assets seized in June and was forced to close its print and online editions. So far only two of the eight, publisher Cheung Kim-heung and editor-in-chief Ryan Law Wai-kwong, have been charged. They are alleged to have published 30 articles that endanger China’s national security by calling for sanctions against Hong Kong and mainland Chinese officials.
The U.S. has imposed multiple rounds of sanctions on Chinese companies and individuals for their roles in alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and against government figures and senior police officers in Hong Kong over the current crackdown in the city.
Beijing introduced a National Security Law in Hong Kong a year ago. It describes crimes including secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. It also creates new security bodies within Hong Kong and opens up the possibility of extradition to mainland China for certain cases.
The first trial under the NSL is currently ongoing in Hong Kong. The case against Tong Yin-kit, a man alleged to have endangered national security by driving his motorcycle at police, is being heard by a panel of three judges.
In full the police statement reads: “The National Security Department of the Hong Kong Police Force launched an enforcement operation today (July 21) and arrested a 51-year-old former male editor of a media company for collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security. He was suspected to be in connection with a case detected in June.