Detained editorial writer of Hong Kong’s Apple Daily freed on bail


A senior editorial writer at the now defunct Apple Daily was released on bail on Tuesday after being arrested at the airport and held under Hong Kong’s national security law, local media reported.

Hong Kong media outlets, including online platform Stand News, said Mr. Fung Wai-kong was released on cash bail of HK$200,000 (S$34,650), had his travel documents confiscated and was ordered to report to police in late July.

Live footage showed him leaving a Hong Kong police station but he declined to give comments to reporters.

Mr. Fung, 57, became the latest person from the pro-democracy media outlet to be targeted following a raid on the newspaper by 500 officers nearly two weeks ago and the arrests of five executives.

Two of the top executives have been charged under a sweeping new national security law and has been denied bail.

In an e-mail response for comment on his release, police said that a male suspect had been released from custody while investigations are on-going and the person needs to report back to police in late July.

It was not immediately clear what the investigation was focused on. Mr. Fung is the seventh employee at the media group to be arrested in recent weeks, deepening concerns over press freedoms in the former British colony which returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Mr. Fung could not be reached for comment.

The Hong Kong government did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It has said previously that media freedoms in the global financial hub are respected but not absolute and they cannot endanger national security.

Next Digital, the publisher of Apple Daily, did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

The popular tabloid was forced to fold following the raid on its headquarters on June 17 and the freeze of key assets and bank accounts. It printed its final edition last Thursday.

Authorities say dozens of the paper’s articles may have violated the national security law that Beijing imposed on the financial hub last year, the first instance of authorities taking aim at media reports under the legislation.

Hong Kong returned to China with the promise of continued wide-ranging freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland, including freedom of speech and an independent judiciary.

Next Digital said in a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange late on Tuesday that it had accepted a proposal to divest Amazing Sino, which operates the online edition of Taiwan’s Apple Daily.

The move comes more than a month after it ceased printing its Taiwan edition on the island, which China views as a breakaway province, blaming declining advertising revenue and difficult business conditions in Hong Kong linked to politics. (Source: The Straits Times)