US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo on Monday said that he was "troubled" by reports of the arrest of Jimmy Lai, a media tycoon and critic of the Chinese Communist Party, under the draconian national security law in Hong Kong.
"I'm deeply troubled by reports of the arrest of @JimmyLaiApple under Hong Kong's draconian National Security Law. Further proof that the CCP has eviscerated Hong Kong's freedoms and eroded the rights of its people," Pompeo said in a tweet.
Continuing with the ruthless suppression of the dissenting voices in Hong Kong since the national security law was imposed, Lai was arrested on Monday on charges of "collusion with a foreign country".
The New York Times reported that Lai's company Next Digital publishes Apple Daily, a fiercely pro-democracy newspaper that regularly takes on the Hong Kong government and the Chinese leadership. He is denounced by Chinese officials, pro-Beijing news outlets in Hong Kong, and China's state-run news media.
The European Union too in a statement expressed concern over the arrests saying it further stoke fears that the National Security Law is being used to stifle freedom of expression.
"The recent arrests of Jimmy Lai, members of his family and other individuals, and the raid on the offices of newspaper Apple Daily, under allegations of collusion with foreign forces, further stoke fears that the National Security Law is being used to stifle freedom of expression and of the media in Hong Kong," said the lead spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Peter Stano in a statement.
The statement said 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.
"In addition, media freedom and pluralism, are pillars of democracy as they are essential components of open and free society. 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 statement read.
The draconian law is aimed at crushing dissent in the erstwhile British colony which saw massive pro-democracy protests last year.
The legislation, which came into effect on July 1, punishes what Beijing terms secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference with up to life in prison.
Several countries have suspended their extradition agreements with Hong Kong in the wake of imposition of the controversial security law.
Germany has decided to suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong, Foreign Minister Heiko Mass, had said after the erstwhile British colony decided to postpone legislative council elections.
China had earlier announced the suspension of Hong Kong's extradition treaties with Canada, Australia and Britain after the three countries announced similar decisions in protest to controversial new security law. (ANI)