Hongkongers emptied newspaper racks across the city as they rushed to purchase Apple Daily on Tuesday morning, in a show of support for the pro-democracy newspaper after the arrest the previous day of its owner Jimmy Lai and a police raid on its newsroom. The raid, carried out under a Beijing-imposed national security law, sparked headlines worldwide.
The first batch of Tuesday’s Apple Daily – with a photo of Lai in police custody and a headline reading “Apple will stride on” – arrived at a newspaper stand in Mong Kok at around 2 am.
The first batch of Tuesday's @appledaily_hk – with a photo of Lai in police custody and a headline reading "Apple will stride on" – arrived at a newspaper stand in Mong Kok at around 2 am. https://t.co/p3KdNXQ7yM pic.twitter.com/wzLEx1RlTK— Hong Kong Free Press HKFP (@HongKongFP) August 11, 2020
According to local media, dozens of people queued to buy piles of copies to show solidarity with the tabloid. One vendor told reporters that he sold more than 200 copies within 30 minutes.
“Now it’s not just about buying a copy of a newspaper, it is buying conscience. This is the stance Hongkongers choose to take, and they need to strive to report on the truth,” a reader surnamed Fung told Apple Daily.
Apple Daily originally printed 350,000 copies of Tuesday’s edition, but decided to add another 200,000 due to high demand.
Tin Shui Wai Connection, an activist group, announced its members would distribute around 1,000 copies of Apple Daily at the Tin Shui Wai MTR station in the morning. “Press freedom is priceless,” it said.
HKFP reporters checked multiple convenience stores across Hong Kong on Tuesday morning and most said copies of Apple Daily had been sold out. Around 10 people queued up to pay for their Apple Daily copies at a convenience store in Wong Chuk Hang MTR station, after the shop received extra copies at around 9.30 am.
On Monday night, the tabloid asked people to buy a copy of Apple Daily and upload a photo to social media platforms with the hashtags #SupportAppleDaily and #WeNeedApple Daily. Supporters included pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong, lawmaker Ted Hui and singer-songwriter Pong Nan.
Police on Monday arrested Lai, a high-profile critic of Beijing, at his home on suspicion of colluding with foreign forces in violation of the national security law. Lai was also accused of conspiracy to defraud and incitement, while his two sons and some senior executives of his company Next Digital were rounded up as well.
Police sent around 200 officers to search the media company’s office in Tseung Kwan O with a warrant and took away 25 boxes of evidence after a four-hour raid. While police said the force did not seize any reporting material, live feed from Apple Daily from inside the office showed officers examining documents on journalists’ desks.
Next Digital in a statement on Monday condemned the police action. It accused officers of “rifling through” documents in the newsroom and creating “white terror,” breaching freedom of the press.
“In the face of these illegal, unreasonable and barbaric tactics, the staff of Apple Daily will stay fearless and continue speaking the truth amid persecution,” the statement read.