Hong Kong's arrest of local media mogul Jimmy Lai Chee-ying sparked a round of international condemnation, with Washington, Brussels and others calling the move the latest example of the government's use of a new national security law to silence political dissents.
"I'm deeply troubled by reports of the arrest of [Lai] under Hong Kong's draconian National Security Law," Pompeo said in a Twitter post. "Further proof that the [Chinese Communist Party] has eviscerated Hong Kong's freedoms and eroded the rights of its people."
Britain, the European Union and the United Nations also expressed concern over the police move just over a month into the implementation of the new law that has a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the arrest a pretext to silence opposition.
"We are deeply concerned by the arrest of Jimmy Lai and six other individuals in Hong Kong," a spokesman for Johnson said.
He added: "Freedom of the press is explicitly guaranteed in the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law and is supposed to be protected under Article 4 of the national security law.
"This is further evidence that the national security law is being used as a pretext to silence opposition. The Hong Kong authorities must uphold the rights and freedoms of its people."
Lai and six others - including his two sons and some of Apple Daily's management team - were arrested Monday for alleged collusion with foreign forces in the most high profile police operation under the national security law recently imposed by Beijing.
Police also raided the newspaper's offices, spending several hours combing through the premises for unspecified documents, a move that was widely condemned by journalists' associations in Hong Kong.
In another operation that began late afternoon, police also arrested three other activists, including Agnes Chow Ting, a close associate of former student leader Joshua Wong Chi-fung, on suspicion of collusion with foreign or external forces to endanger national security, sources told the Post.
Hong Kong police raid Apple Daily office in Hong Kong, China in this still picture taken from a social media video on Monday. Photo: Apple Daily via Reuters alt=Hong Kong police raid Apple Daily office in Hong Kong, China in this still picture taken from a social media video on Monday. Photo: Apple Daily via Reuters
Freelance ITV News journalist, Wilson Li, was among the other two arrested. Li was formerly a member of Scholarism, the student activists' group formed by Joshua Wong.
He was arrested along with activist Andy Li, according to ITV.
An ITV News spokesperson said: "We can confirm that Wilson Li works for ITV News in a freelance capacity. We are concerned to hear of his arrest and are urgently seeking clarification of the circumstances."
European Commission spokesman Peter Stano said the arrests of Lai, his family members and other individuals, and the raid on the offices of Apple Daily, "further stoke fears that the National Security Law is being used to stifle freedom of expression and of the media in Hong Kong".
"The European Union recalls that the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms is a central element of the Basic Law and the 'one country, two systems' principle," Stano said.
In addition, media freedom and pluralism are "pillars of democracy" as they are "essential components of open and free society', he said. "It is essential that the existing rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents are fully protected, including freedom of speech, of the press and of publication, as well as freedom of association and of assembly."
The UN human rights office voiced deep concern on Monday at Lai's arrest under the new security law.
"We urge the authorities to review these cases to ensure that the arrests do not impinge on the exercise of rights protected by the international human rights law and Hong Kong's Basic Law," Jeremy Laurence, spokesman for the office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet told Reuters.
"We repeat our calls for the authorities to monitor and review the operation of the security law and to amend it if necessary to ensure there is no scope for its misuse to restrict human rights guaranteed by international law and the Basic Law of Hong Kong," Laurence added.
Republican US senator Marco Rubio, known for writing and supporting legislation that calls for the sanctioning of officials deemed to be responsible for undermining Hong Kong's autonomy, including the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, also weighed in on Lai's arrest.
"As more arrests are expected, the free world must respond quickly as well as provide safe harbor to at-risk Hong Kongers," Rubio said in a retweet of a post about the situation by US-based Samuel Chu of the Hong Kong Democracy Council.
Chu is one of six people now sought by Hong Kong police on suspicion of breaking the new national security law.
This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2020 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.
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