Hong Kongers Line Up to Buy Copies of Apple Daily After Its Founder Was Arrested

Supporters line up at 2am to purchase newspaper copies a day after Jimmy Lai was arrested, heightening concerns of the city's diminishing press freedoms.
August 11, 2020, 10:50am
apple daily newspaper jimmy lai
A vendor arranges fresh copies of the Apple Daily newspaper in Hong Kong early on August 11, 2020, with a front page photo of its founder Jimmy Lai being escorted through the paper's newsroom by police following his arrest under the new national security law. Photo credit: Yan ZHAO / AFP

Hong Kongers showed solidarity with the Apple Daily newspaper on Tuesday, August 11, by lining up early in the morning to buy the paper en masse.

Police arrested the outlet’s billionaire founder, Jimmy Lai, on Monday morning and swarmed Apple Daily's Tseung Kwan O office. Lai, 71, is a leading pro-democracy figure and frequent critic of the Chinese and Hong Kong governments.

On Tuesday, scores of Hong Kongers bought large quantities of the newspaper in a huge show of support.

According to Hong Kong public broadcaster RTHK, dozens of people lined up as early as 2 a.m. in order to snag a copy of the paper, which featured a full-page photo of Lai being led through the Apple Daily office along with the headline: “Apple Daily must fight on.”

One woman told RTHK that the police raid on the Apple Daily building and Lai’s arrest “interfered with press freedom brutally.”

Pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong posted a photo of himself holding a copy of the paper along with the hashtag #supportappledaily.

A news seller in Admiralty told RTHK that buyers snapped up thousands of copies of Apple Daily on Tuesday while other newspapers remained untouched.

A young woman told RTHK that buying the newspaper was a form of protest against the government as it continues to crack down on press freedom.

“It’s a way to tell the Chinese Communist Party government that we’re not afraid of you,” she told RTHK. “I don’t know what I can do, but the simplest thing is that I can buy some newspaper.”

Apple Daily says it printed 200,000 extra copies of its newspaper in anticipation of high demand and thanked its readers for continued support.

The outlet reported that a batch of 190 newspapers arrived at a newspaper stand on Argyle Street at 2 a.m. and by 2:35 a.m. they were all sold out.

Twitter users reported that copies of the newspaper were bought out and distributed for free across the city.

Reporters from Apple Daily live-streamed the police raid of its newsroom to Facebook on Monday. The video has since garnered thousands of comments and reactions.

The Hong Kong Police Force defended its actions, saying that it had obtained a search warrant “to gather evidence for offenses related to National Security Law.”

Lai is considered to be the most high-profile person arrested in connection with the city’s new national security law. He is the founder of several successful businesses in Hong Kong and in 2008, Forbes reported that he was worth $1.2 billion.

The controversial law bans the promotion of secession, subversion and foreign interference, and threatens a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. It has already been used to arrest dozens of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong over the last month.

According to the Financial Times, shares in Lai’s media company Next Digital nearly tripled following his arrest, jumping by as much as 344 percent.

In a statement following the police raid, Apple Daily said on Twitter that attacks against the press would not be tolerated.

“Hong Kong’s press freedom is now hanging by a thread, but our staff will remain fully committed to our duty to defend the freedom of the press,” the outlet wrote in a Twitter thread.