Staff vow to press on till the very endTop News | Michael Shum and Leung Pak-hei 18 Jun 2021
Apple Daily staff will "fight till the end" despite the government's crackdown, the newspaper wrote in a letter to readers.
Suggesting it is now "the worst of times in Hong Kong," the newspaper said its staff will continue to carry out their duties faithfully and "press on till the end to see the arrival of dawn."
It added: "The law enforcers have labeled journalistic materials that were openly gathered as evidence of crime; the regime has publicly called on journalists to keep a distance from fellow media workers who are merely doing their jobs.
"Today's Hong Kong feels unfamiliar and leaves us speechless. It feels as though we are powerless to stop the regime from exercising its power as it pleases."
But, it added, staff will stand firm and put their best foot forward to continue persisting as Hongkongers.
"History will pass judgment on today's accusations against Apple Daily," the letter said.
"In an era where the regime can draw arbitrary red lines, the staff of Apple Daily will remain in their positions and report the truth for Hongkongers in a legal, reasonable and fair manner."
Next Media Trade Union spokesman Alex Lam Wai-chung said the police operation will not stop the newspaper from operating but admitted that the development is "worrying." He added: "We are worried about the legal responsibilities, as we have no idea where the red lines lie under the national security law.
"It is hard to say what is going to happen to our colleagues in the future."
Earlier, the union issued a statement criticizing police for breaching press freedom by treating editorial staff as criminals, journalism as a crime and the newsroom as a crime scene.
The union expressed regret toward the court for issuing a search warrant for news material as that may affect the public's confidence toward the media and hamper its role as the Fourth Estate.
Meanwhile, former Democratic Party chief Emily Lau Wai-hing believes the incident has caused astonishment and worry among the public and the international community.
"There is not much of one country, two systems left," Lau said. "One country, two systems makes us different from the mainland, gives us freedom, personal safety, the rule of law and then develops democracy."
She pointed out that if Apple Daily is shut down by the government, it will be a very strong and worrying message to the international community and Hongkongers.
The Democratic Party's Sin Cheuk-nam slammed the police raid for creating "white terror" in the media sector.
Sin also called on the government to disclose the articles that were suspected of breaching the national security law or "it will just give rise to public concerns that those who go along with the government will prosper while those who go against it will perish."
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the raid showed China was using the national security law to target dissent.
"The raids and arrests at Apple Daily in Hong Kong demonstrate Beijing is using the national security law to target dissenting voices, not tackle public security," Raab said.
"Freedom of the press is one of the rights China promised to protect in the joint declaration and should be respected."
Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu Jaushieh said he is saddened by the raid.
He wrote on social media that authoritarianism is waging a brutal war on the newspaper, which is a desperately endangered symbol of freedom in Hong Kong.