Police Commissioner Chris Tang warned on Tuesday that publishing "fake news" could amount to a breach of the national security law, saying his officers will be forced to respond if reports "incite hatred and divide society".
"Whether a piece is considered fake news has to do with moral judgement and credibility issues, and has nothing to do with me. But if these fake news incite hatred and divide society, then people have a chance of committing crimes, including offences related to national security. Then I have to act," Tang said.
After attending a meeting of Wan Chai District Council, Tang appeared to again take aim at Apple Daily – without directly naming the newspaper – saying there had been "made-up allegations" and "distorted reports", such as a link being made between Hong Kong's restaurant vaccine bubble and the mainland's social credit system.
He sidestepped questions from reporters as to whether the police already have evidence to show that Apple Daily has violated the national security law, saying he is not targeting any particular media.
"As long as you broke the law, we will find evidence to prove that you committed a crime. You can only wait at home for us to arrest you. But you don't have to worry at all if you didn't break the law," he said.
The police chief also said the force is discussing with the Department of Justice what action to take after the Civil Human Rights Front refused to comply with police demands for it to hand over information on its finances and activities.
The front, which has organised large-scale public gatherings and protests since 2006, is facing the possibility of being outlawed, after the police accused it of violating the Societies Ordinance by not registering with the force.
"It seems that they have failed to provide the requested information and we are now discussing with the Department of Justice regarding the way forward, including enforcement action," Tang said.