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June 23, 2021

Hong Kong pro-democracy paper Apple Daily announced its closure on Wednesday, a move that comes after government authorities raided its offices last week and blocked the publication from accessing its financial assets under the city’s controversial national security law.

The publication announced on its website that they are going to cease operations at midnight and publish its last edition on Thursday.

In a filing with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange earlier in the day, Apple Daily’s publisher Next Digital said the print edition will come to an end “no later than” the last edition on Saturday, June 26 and the digital version will not be accessible after 11:59 pm on the same day.

 

Despite the Saturday closing date mentioned in Next Digital's filing, the publication said it will stop operations immediately after Wednesday midnight due to employee safety considerations.

The city’s government had frozen the publisher’s accounts which roughly held HK$18 million ($2.3 million), Forbes reported earlier this week.

Last week, Hong Kong police targeted the newspaper with early morning raids and arrested its chief editor and four other executives. The five individuals were taken into custody on what Hong Kong authorities alleged was suspected collusion with foreign powers. Globally, the arrests were seen as the latest instance of the muzzling of Apple Daily, a paper that has heavily criticized Beijing’s clampdown on all forms of dissent in the city. The city’s government also invoked its draconian national security law to freeze the publisher’s accounts, a move which the publisher Next Digital attempted to appeal. Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, denied the government’s actions were an attack on press freedom and said foreign criticism was an attempt to “beautify” acts that endangered national security.

Hong Kong media tycoon and Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai is currently serving two jail terms that add up to 20 months in total for his role in organizing pro-democracy rallies across the city in 2019. Lai also faces charges under the national security law and could face a life sentence if convicted. In 2019, Lai and the other activists organized protests across Hong Kong in opposition of a law that would have allowed Hong Kong’s government to detain and extradite people to mainland China. Following the protests, Beijing moved to exert more control on Hong Kong and imposed a new national security law last year that gave the city’s authorities sweeping powers to target political dissidents, and established secret police and a national security council to oversee its implementation.






Source: Forbes
Image Source: Getty Images