In a statement, the US State Department warned that the raids on the offices of the pro-democracy newspaper in Hong Kong damage the credibility of that city as an international exchange center.
On Thursday, the United States urged Hong Kong to stop attacking the media, warning that raids on pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily undermined the city's credibility as an international hub.
" We call on the authorities to stop attacking the independent and free media, " State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.
The letter added that efforts to curb media freedom and restrict the free flow of information were undermining Hong Kong's democratic institutions and Hong Kong's reputation and credibility as an international hub.
This Thursday, the Hong Kong police searched for the second time in less than a year the pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily offices. They arrested five executives, including the chief editor of this medium, who warned that freedom of the press in this territory "hangs by a thread."
In the name of drastic national security law, these arrests are the latest setback against the popular tabloid and its jailed owner, billionaire Jimmy Lai.
According to the police, more than 500 policemen participated in the operation this Thursday morning about articles published by the Apple Daily " urging sanctions " against Hong Kong and the Chinese leaders. It is the first time that the content of an article has led to arrests due to the national security law imposed by Beijing last year.
In a message to its readers, the Apple Daily stated that "the protection of press freedom in Hong Kong is hanging by a thread." The journalists' union of the newspaper called the operation a "gratuitous violation of freedom of the press" that "reflects how the power of the police has increased within the framework of the law."
According to the police, the five managers were arrested "for conspiracy with a foreign country or external elements to endanger national security," according to the police. Police also froze Apple Daily assets worth $ 2.3 million.
"I will not regret."
Hong Kong Minister of Security John Lee declined to say which articles had violated security law or whether the people who had shared the texts were also in the crosshairs of justice.
"It is not against freedom of the press," he said. "We focus on a conspiracy that threatens national security and on journalists who through their work would participate in events that threaten national security."
Apple Daily broadcast the police raid live on its Facebook account. The footage shows police officers entering the building, besieging the complex. Among those arrested were Ryan La, editor-in-chief, and Cheung Kim Hung, CEO.
After the device, the journalists returned to the newsroom, totally looted. According to them, the police took 38 computers, hard drives, and notebooks with notes.
For a newspaper photographer, it is about " creating a climate of terror for the Apple Daily workers ." "But if they stop me for wanting to bear witness to the news, I will not regret it."
The national security law that came into effect in June 2020 is the spearhead of the widespread crackdown on critics of China in Hong Kong since the massive pro-democracy demonstrations of 2019.
Under the new law, convicts face life in prison and most are denied bail after arrest.