Hundreds of police officers in Hong Kong swarmed the office of the pro-democracy Apple Daily on Thursday and arrested several executives in what was called a "blatant attack" on its editorial team.
The Apple Daily ran its own story about the raid and said five of its executives were arrested for breaking Article 29 of Beijing's controversial national security law, which prohibits "collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security."
An adviser for Jimmy Lai, the Hong Kong billionaire and founder of Next Digital, Apple Daily's parent, called the raid a "blatant attack."
"They are arresting editors," Mark Simon, the adviser told Reuters. "They're arresting the top editorial folks."
Sunny Cheung, an activist who has been in exile from Hong Kong after a warrant was issued for his arrest, told Fox News in a phone call that the raid shows the Chinese Communist Party's effort to repress press freedoms.
Cheung said he hopes the international community takes a firm stand against Beijing over the aggression.
Lai, 73, was sentenced to 14 months in prison in May for his role in an anti-government protest in the city back in 2019.
Lai—who fled China at 12 years old and became one of its fiercest critics—has been serving a separate 14-month sentence for convictions tied to the massive pro-democracy protests that took place in Hong Kong to lash out at what protester saw as Beijing’s overreach.
The law has been used to arrest over a hundred pro-democracy figures since it was first implemented in June last year. Thursday's raid will do little to temper the concerns of many in the city about their freedoms and future.
Apple Daily posted on its Twitter account dozens of police officers in its lobby. The paper said the raid occurred at about 7:30 a.m. and hundreds of officers were involved.
Steve Li, the senior superintendent of the national security unit, accused the paper of publishing over 30 articles that sought foreign sanctions against China.
The paper said officers did not allow journalists back to their desks and called the office a "crime scene."
Reuters reported that trading for the company's stock on the Hong Kong bourse was suspended on Thursday.
Beijing has clamped down on civil liberties in response to protests. Hong Kong authorities have arrested and charged most of the city’s pro-democracy advocates, including Joshua Wong, a student leader during 2014 protests. Scores of others have fled abroad.
The Associated Press contributed to this report