The head of the Next Media Trade Union has expressed concern that news sources will lose trust in their group and stop breaking stories to them, following the police raid on Apple Daily's office on Monday.
Pun Pak-lam expressed concern that the public may think it's unsafe to talk to the newspaper, after the police had probed the paper's news materials during the raid, and said some of these items could include sensitive news materials and notes on ongoing investigative reports.
Speaking to an RTHK radio programme, Pun said that this concern from readers and reporters, and loss of trust in the paper, could make it difficult for the newspaper to operate.
He said it's not known whether police took any information during the raid, and employees are worried and concerned whether there's still press freedom and editorial work will be free from intervention in the long run.
Pun also said that when police entered the building they claimed they had presented a warrant, but the paper's editor-in-chief Ryan Law didn't see the warrant until a lawyer arrived at least one hour after the raid began.
Meanwhile, veteran pro-democracy lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan said the raid was designed to have "a chilling effect" on Hong Kong.
Lee told RTHK's Hong Kong Today that the whole exercise was "a show of force and a show of threat", and was in response to US sanctions against 11 Hong Kong and mainland officials and to how the media reported on last year’s anti-government protests.
“This is a very serious threat of course, but I think the people of Hong Kong will continue to speak out, because what else do we have? We don’t have democracy, we’re going to lose our freedom also, so I think the people of Hong Kong will still want the way of life we have and we still want to have press freedom and freedom of expression,” he said.
About 200 officers raided the newspaper's headquarters in Tseung Kwan O on Monday, taking away 25 boxes of material as evidence.
The other people arrested are understood to include executives of Next Media and Lai's two sons. They are suspected of offences that include colluding with foreign forces, which carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.