Two senior Apple Daily executives have challenged Hong Kong police’s seizure of news articles after their high-profile arrests last week, applying to the High Court for the return of their possessions, and damages.
Former editor-in-chief Ryan Law Wai-kwong, and digital director Nick Cheung Chi-wai filed their respective applications on Wednesday, the day the 26-year-old tabloid printed its last edition after a national security law crackdown.
The pair asked for the court’s permission to inspect the evidence police seized from the newspaper’s headquarters in Tseung Kwan O and their respective residences, to reclaim journalistic materials and those protected by legal professional privilege.
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They also sought “damages for the trespass to, and/or conversion and/or detinue of” the seized possessions.
National security officers raided Apple Daily’s premises and the duo’s residences last Thursday with two court warrants signed by an unidentified magistrate, which the force said covered the inspection and seizure of journalistic materials.
More than 200 officers cordoned off the offices, and searched the newsroom before taking away 38 computers belonging to reporters.
Police also arrested five Apple Daily executives, including Cheung Kim-hung, publisher and CEO of parent company Next Digital, for their roles in the publication of more than 30 articles alleged to be part of a conspiracy to attract foreign sanctions.
Law and Cheung Kim-hung have been charged with conspiring with the tabloid-style newspaper’s founder Jimmy Lai Chee-ying and others to collude with foreign forces. Chief Magistrate Victor So Wai-tak remanded the pair in custody, saying he believed they would continue to commit national security offences.
The remaining three of the five arrested, including Nick Cheung, have been bailed without charge.
Similar legal action has been taken against police by Lai, Apple Daily and senior executives of Next Digital after officers first raided the company’s premises on August 10 last year.
Lai and nine others were detained over allegations of colluding with foreign forces or committing commercial fraud. Court proceedings in that lawsuit are ongoing.
Apple Daily folded at midnight on Wednesday, with its online platforms – including its Facebook and Twitter accounts – ceasing operations, hours after national security police detained its lead editorial writer that morning as part of an ongoing crackdown.
A notice appeared on the newspaper’s website on Wednesday’s afternoon saying management would cease publication ahead of Saturday, the date originally set by the directors of Next Digital because of staffing limitations and to protect employees.
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