A volunteer holds a copy of the Apple Daily newspaper handed out by pro-democracy district councilors in Hong Kong on Aug. 11, a day after authorities conducted a search of the newspaper's headquarters after the company’s founder Jimmy Lai was arrested under the new national security law. (Photo: Isaac Lawrence/AFP)
Hong Kong's Apple Daily showed its defiance at the arrest of its owner under the draconian national security law and published a front-page image of Jimmy Lai in handcuffs under the headline "Fight on".A day after police made the high-profile arrest of Catholic philanthropist Lai, many readers queued in the early hours of Aug. 11 to buy copies of the pro-democracy newspaper.Due to demand, more than 500,000 copies were published instead of the regular 100,000, the daily said on its website."Yesterday will not be the darkest day for Apple Daily as the subsequent nuisances, suppression and arrests will continue to induce fear in us," an editorial in the Aug. 11 edition said."Nevertheless, the prayers and encouragement of many readers and writers make us believe that as long as there are readers, there will be writers, and that Apple Daily shall certainly fight on."
In an interview, Lai had told the BBC that the introduction of the national security law was “the death knell for Hong Kong.”
In a late-night briefing, police said the arrested persons had previously lobbied for foreign sanctions. "After the national security law came into force,” they are still active, senior superintendent Li Kwai-wah told media.
Lai supported and participated in pro-democracy demonstrations in 2019.
Unnamed confirmed reports said that Apple Daily was arranging lawyers for Lai.
Pro-Beijing China Daily newspaper wrote in an Aug. 11 editorial that Lai's arrest showed "the cost of dancing with the enemy."
The Chinese-backed Global Times described Lai as a "riot supporter" and termed his publications as "instigating hatred, spreading rumors and smearing Hong Kong authorities and the mainland for years."
In the past, Beijing has labeled Lai a "traitor."
Reacting to the arrest, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Lai a "patriot" and condemned his arrest.
Cardinal Zen and the Diocese of Hong Kong's Justice and Peace Commission have vociferously backed the pro-democracy movement in the city-state.
The sweep of arrests on Aug. 10 showed that China will implement the new security law with an iron fist.