Fung Wai-kong is seventh senior figure from publication to be arrested in two weeks
Hong Kong police have arrested a former senior Apple Daily journalist at the airport while he was attempting to leave the city.
The 57-year-old journalist is the seventh staff member of the now-closed pro-democracy newspaper to be detained, after police accused them and the paper of foreign collusion under the national security law.
The arrests have sent a chill across the industry, with reports on Monday of some outlets receiving anonymous threats. Another news site, Stand News, took down all published opinion pieces.
The Apple Daily journalist Fung Wai-kong was believed to be leaving Hong Kong for the UK when he was arrested on Sunday night, local media reported. Police said he was detained for “conspiring to collude with foreign countries or foreign forces to endanger national security”, and had been held while investigations continued.
Last week, police arrested the paper’s chief editorial writer, which followed the detention of five executives including the editor-in-chief, Ryan Law, and the chief executive, Cheung Kim-hung, who were both later charged. Apple Daily was forced to print its final edition and cease operations on Thursday after it was crippled by associated asset freezes.
The Hong Kong Journalists Association condemned the police for targeting journalists.
“The HKJA reiterates that freedom of speech and freedom of the press are core values of Hong Kong,” it said in a statement. “If even the writing of the literati cannot be tolerated, it will be difficult for Hong Kong to be regarded as an international city.”
Fung’s arrest also came as the pro-democracy online news outlet Stand News said in a statement that it would remove commentaries published on its site before June and halt its fundraising efforts because of concerns over the sweeping national security law.
The measures were taken to protect the website’s supporters, writers and editorial staffers in the “literary inquisition” of Hong Kong, Stand News said in a statement. Stand News is a popular online news outlet that formed in the wake of the 2014 Umbrella movement.
Six of the company’s directors also stepped down, including the former legislator Margaret Ng and the celebrity Denise Ho, both prominent pro-democracy figures. Stand News also terminated contracts of staff who had served more than six months to protect them and pay them more, Hong Kong Free Press reported. Most were re-employed under a new contract, the report said.
Stand News also said it would stop accepting new subscriptions, and would no longer take money from donors or subscribers, in case the money went to waste – the national security law allows accounts and assets to be frozen if authorities believe the funds are related to crime, as which occurred with Apple Daily.
“We have enough money to run for another nine to 12 months. If necessary, we will seek help again from Hongkongers in future,” the outlet said.
Despite the precautionary measures taken, Stand News pledged to keep reporting the news.
“In the past six and a half years, the Stand News team has been through trials and hardships with the people of Hong Kong, cherishing each other and weaving the common memory of Hong Kong’s survival,” it said. “To pass on these memories, we will stick to our posts, walk with the people of Hong Kong … and write and record the news and happenings in Hong Kong.”
The police actions against Apple Daily drew international outrage and accusations that authorities were using the national security law to stifle press freedom. The government and police denied the claims. On Sunday, the police commissioner, Raymond Siu, who was appointed to the job after his predecessor was promoted on Friday, called for a law against “fake news” and blamed the media for plunging levels of trust in the police force.