Chief Executive of China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Carrie Lam on Tuesday defended the police's arrest of senior executives of Apple Daily, stressing they were prosecuted for breaching the national security law in Hong Kong, and has nothing to do with freedom of the press.
Two of the five people arrested last week have also been charged with collusion with foreign countries.
Police cited more than 30 articles published by the paper as evidence of an alleged conspiracy to impose foreign sanctions on Hong Kong and China.
The arrest widens the police operation against Apple Daily, which is facing the threat of imminent closure.
Law and Cheung were officially charged on Saturday and remanded into custody.
Apple Daily said in an article on Sunday that it may challenge the decision to freeze its assets in court if the city's Security Bureau denies its request.
Those three are still under investigation but were released from police detention.
A man accused of driving a motorcycle into police officers while carrying a Hong Kong protest flag has become the first person to stand trial under the national security law implemented a year ago as China's central government tightened control over the city.
Hong Kong's Judiciary describes trial by jury as one of the most important features of the city's legal system, a common law tradition created to offer defendants additional protection against the possibility of authorities overreaching their power.
The arrests and freezing of assets came as Hong Kong authorities crack down on dissenting voices as Beijing tightens control over the territory in what critics say is an erosion of freedoms it promised the city for 50 years when the former British colony was handed over to China in 1997.
In May, Reuters reported exclusively that Hong Kong's security chief had sent letters to tycoon Mr Lai and branches of HSBC and Citibank threatening up to seven years' jail for any dealings with the billionaire's accounts in the city.
But she said, "Don't try to underplay the significance of breaching the national security law, and don't try to beautify these acts of endangering national security". Secretary for Security will handle in accordance with the law any application related to the frozen property.