Apple Daily editor on why he livestreamed the police newsroom raid

Published (HKT): 2020.08.13 06:00

The head of Apple Daily’s breaking-news team never expected his first livestreamed news event to be of a police raid at his office, which lasted for nine hours on Monday.

The editor, who gave his name as Chan, joined Apple Daily seven years ago and leads the paper’s coverage of breaking news. He said the office had been relatively quiet on Monday when he received word at around 9 a.m. that a large number of police vehicles had pulled up outside the newspaper’s headquarters in Tseung Kwan O. “At that moment, we didn’t know if they were here to close down the newspaper,” Chan said.

By the time the police arrived at Apple Daily’s office, they had already arrested Jimmy Lai, founder of Next Digital, which publishes the newspaper. Lai was arrested on allegations of collusion with foreign forces, a new offence created under the national security law imposed by Beijing on June 30. Two of Lai’s sons as well as several Apple Daily senior executives had also been arrested at their homes.

Chan started livestreaming the events that unfolded after a large number of police officers entered the newspaper’s office. He said the officers pushed open the doors and looked around as they pleased, despite not showing a search warrant. “They acted like they had already won,” Chan said.

The police made attempts to ban the newspaper’s staff from taking videos — a request Chan said he was glad to have recorded in his livestream as proof to show to the world.

“It was very ridiculous, because reporting is a reporter’s duty, especially since they were inside our newsroom,” Chan said.

The 200-strong police team deployed during Monday’s raid was the biggest Chan had ever witnessed during his 26-year journalistic career. The treatment of Lai and the other arrested executives, who had their hands cuffed and also wrapped in plastic bags, was also unnecessarily severe, Chan said.

Chan, who had considered quitting Apple Daily after the enactment of the national security law, said Monday’s raid changed his mind.

“You see that management is willing to bear such big risks to stay in Hong Kong and support press freedom. There is no reason frontline journalists cannot carry on,” he said.

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