Apple Daily loses court bid to render police’s headquarters raid illegal

2021.06.11

Hong Kong’s High Court has rejected an Apple Daily challenge of the legal basis behind a police raid on the newspaper’s headquarters last August that saw loads of documents seized and top executives arrested.

Apple Daily earlier succeeded in getting the court to order the city police to return company material that were either related to journalism or covered by legal professional privilege, including detailed exchanges with its lawyers.

The newspaper failed in its current legal attempt, as Mr Justice Wilson Chan said in a judgment made available to reporters on Thursday that he was unable to review the legal grounds of the police’s search warrant.

Chan also upheld a previous court order for Apple Daily and the police to jointly inspect the seized material to decide what was to be excluded from the investigators’ inspection.

More than 200 police officers last year ransacked the offices of Next Digital in Tseung Kwan O armed with the warrant, which was issued under national security laws enacted that June. Ten people were arrested, including company founder Jimmy Lai, four senior managers and two sons of Lai. The media tycoon and his senior managers were suspected of conspiracy to defraud and national security breaches.

Apple Daily, which is owned by Next Digital, has maintained the seized items are unrelated to the national security laws, being mainly commercial documents, and that police have therefore overstepped the scope of the search warrant. Chan said in his ruling that the court could not determine if the documents were relevant before the criminal investigation and procedures were completed.

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