Despite its print run being expanded to 500,000 from around 80,000, all copies of the Apply Daily newspaper were sold out on Friday, June 18.
In the face of great adversity, we are grateful for our readers.— Apple Daily HK 蘋果日報 (@appledaily_hk) June 17, 2021
Though Apple Daily is now without 5 top staff, HK$18 million worth of assets, there remains a sea of readers, steadfast in their support.
Apple Daily will print 500,000 copies tomorrow.#AppleDailyENG pic.twitter.com/2wcvUbL3yc
Many bought more than one copy
Hong Kong residents who support the pro-democracy and outspoken newspaper started queuing before dawn, with many buying more than one copy, according to Hong Kong Free Press.
A 36-year-old office worker told Nikkei Asia that he bought three copies even though he is subscribed to the online version.
He said: "I'm very angry, I'm just doing what I can."
The first batch of the newspaper arrived at a newsstand in Mong Kok at around 12:30am on June 18. The owner said the copies were all sold out by 2am.
Individuals also bought the copies in bulk to give away to the public.
Just bumped into a neighbour I’ve never met before. She bought 5 copies of @appledaily_hk this morning. She gave me one. She started crying when talking about the changes here. pic.twitter.com/VB1LQ1Ti0W— Danny Vincent (@dannydvincent) June 18, 2021
Herbert Chow, an owner of a clothing chain, bought several stacks of the paper to give away to his customers.Writing on Facebook, he said: "You go on with your suppression. I go on with my support."
Five executives arrested for collusion with foreign forces
This gesture came in the wake of the arrests of five of the paper's top executives, including its editor-in-chief Ryan Law, who was led away from his home in handcuffs.
500 police officers conducted a raid on the newsroom located in Tseung Kwan O.
Update: HK police raid Apple Daily— Apple Daily HK 蘋果日報 (@appledaily_hk) June 17, 2021
5 executives were taken away, including Editor-in-Chief Ryan Law and #NextDigital CEO Cheung Kim-hung.
Officers were seen accessing journalists' computers, and all employees were barred from returning to their seats to work.#AppleDailyENG pic.twitter.com/45nsFWmCfE
Citing the national security law for the first time in the city, officers had entered with a warrant to seize computers, hard disks and other journalistic materials accessed from reporters' phones and laptops, Reuters reported.
The police had cited the publication for more than 30 unspecified reports that they claimed were responsible for the imposition of foreign sanctions against Hong Kong, as evidence of foreign collusion.
The reports were mostly commentaries and op-eds, including many written by the paper's founder Jimmy Lai, according to the South China Morning Post.
They date back to 2019, before the law came into effect in June last year.
Previously, 200 officers raided the Apple Daily headquarters, and led Lai out of the building in handcuffs.
The arrests are the latest blow to Lai, whose assets have been frozen under the national security law.
He is now serving a prison sentence of 14 months for having taken part in illegal assemblies.
Apple Daily, however, has remained defiant in the face of the raids, arrests, and calls from pro-Beijing media to shut it down. Rejecting the accusations made against them, they headlined their front page with news of the latest arrests.
The latest round of arrests sparked renewed concerns for the city's media freedom, as reporters might feel compelled to practice self-censorship to avoid punishments under the law.
Steve Li Kwai-wah, senior superintendent of Hong Kong's national security unit, however, sought to dispel these fears, saying they are "not targeting the media, but only an organisation that is allegedly Article 29 of the national security law", The Guardian reported.
Hong Kong's security chief had warned of harsh punishment for anyone who uses the media to endanger China's national security.
Top image via Ming Pao & Apple Daily