The arrests and police searches are the latest steps taken by Hong Kong authorities in cracking down on dissent in the semi-autonomous Chinese city, after months of anti-government protests in 2019.

Hong Kong police arrested the editor and four other senior pro-democracy movement officials on Thursday morning Apple Daily newspaper under the National Security Act and raided its offices, media reported.

Apple Daily is known for his strong pro-democracy and critical stance and often condemns the Chinese and Hong Kong governments for tightening control over the city.

The arrests and police searches are the latest steps taken by Hong Kong authorities in cracking down on dissent in the semi-autonomous Chinese city, after months of anti-government protests in 2019.

Apple Daily editor-in-chief Ryan Law, Next Digital CEO Cheung Kim-hung, the publisher’s chief operating officer and two other editors have been arrested, according to Apple Daily, the South China Morning Post and other local media.

The government said security police arrested five directors of a company for “suspected breach” of the national security law.

The four men and a woman, aged 47 to 63, were arrested for colluding with a “foreign country or with external elements endangering national security”, according to the statement, which does not name those arrested.

More than 200 police officers participated in the search for Apple Daily, and the government said a warrant had been obtained to search for evidence of an alleged violation of national security law.

When Hong Kong was handed over to China by the British in 1997, Beijing promised that the territory it could retain its freedoms would not end up on the mainland for 50 years.

Critics now say those freedoms are diminishing as China tightens its grip on the territory, following the implementation of a sweeping national security law that bans secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign collusion. The law has been used to arrest more than 100 pro-democracy figures since it was first implemented in June last year.

This is the second time that Hong Kong police have carried out an operation on Apple Daily, with police arresting founder Jimmy Lai and other executives last year on suspicion of national security law violation or fraud.

Mr. Lai is currently serving a 20-month prison sentence for his role in unauthorized rallies in 2019, during a period when Hong Kong has seen massive anti-government protests. Authorities froze Lai’s assets and shares in Next Digital last month.

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