The National Security Department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) police on Thursday arrested five directors of a company for suspected contravention of the Law of the People's Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (national security law), police said in a statement.
The five people – four men and a woman aged 47-63 – were arrested for allegedly colluding with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security, contravening the National Security Law, according to the police.
Local media said the editor-in-chief of Apple Daily and CEO of Next Digital were among those arrested.
The Liaison Office of China's central government in the HKSAR said in a statement on Thursday that it firmly supports the "just move of strict law enforcement" by the HKSAR government and police.
The office added that it firmly supports all efforts to safeguard national security and maintain Hong Kong's prosperity and stability.
"The Basic Law guarantees the freedoms of speech, the press and publication for Hong Kong residents, but no right or freedom is without boundaries," the statement said, stressing that the bottom line of national security must not be crossed.
"Everyone is equal before the law, including media organizations," it said. "Press freedom is not a shield for illegal behavior."
The owner of Apple Daily, Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, was arrested last August for suspected collusion with foreign or external forces and violation of the national security law. Lai has also been charged with fraud and sentenced to a total of 20-month imprisonment for illegal assemblies.