HONG KONG (Reuters) – A former senior journalist at Hong Kong’s now-closed pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily was released from custody on Tuesday, two days after he was arrested at the airport, media reported.
Fung Wai-kong, 57, became the latest person from the media outlet to be targeted after a raid on the newspaper by 500 officers nearly two weeks ago and the arrests of five executives, two of whom have been charged under a sweeping new national security law.
Live footage showed Fung leaving a Hong Kong police station but he declined to comment to reporters.
In an email response for comment on Fung’s release, police said only that a male suspect had been released from custody. Investigations were ongoing and the person needed to report back to police in late July.
It was not immediately clear what the investigation into Fung was focused on. Fung is the seventh employee at the media group to be arrested in recent weeks, deepening concerns over press freedoms in the former British colony which returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
Hong Kong media outlets including online platform Stand News said Fung was released on cash bail of HK$200,000 ($25,760), had his travel documents confiscated and was ordered to report to police in late July.
Fung could not be reached for comment.
The Hong Kong government did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The government has said previously that media freedoms in the global financial hub are respected but not absolute and they cannot endanger national security.
Next Digital, the publisher of Apple Daily, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
The Apple Daily, a popular tabloid, was forced to fold following the raid on its headquarters on June 17 and the freezing of key assets and bank accounts. It printed its final edition last Thursday.
Authorities say dozens of the paper’s articles may have violated the national security law that Beijing imposed on the financial hub last year, the first instance of authorities taking aim at media reports under the legislation.
Hong Kong returned to China with the promise of continued wide-ranging freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland, including freedom of speech and an independent judiciary.
Next Digital said in a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange late on Tuesday that it had accepted a proposal to divest Amazing Sino, which operates the online edition of Taiwan’s Apple Daily.
The move comes more than a month after it ceased printing its Taiwan edition on the fiercely democratic island, which China views as a breakaway province, blaming declining advertising revenue and difficult business conditions in Hong Kong linked to politics.
(Reporting By Jessie Pang and Twinnie Siu, Writing by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Nick Macfie)