(TibetanReview.net, Jun24’21) – It’s the end of the road for Hong Kong’s feisty Apple Daily newspaper as China’s draconian National Security Law for Hong Kong tightens its deathly grip on its neck, leaving it with no choice but to fold up operations.
With its top editorial staff arrested and assets frozen, the pro-democracy Apple Daily is bringing out its last print edition on Jun 24 while its digital version would no longer be accessible after 11.59pm on Jun 26, reported the scmp.com Jun 23.
The newspaper had lost almost half its workforce since its top executives were arrested last week, but those remaining had vowed to carry on until Jun 25 when management was expected to announce the tabloid’s final day, the scmp.com earlier reported Jun 22.
The report cited employees as saying Jun 22 that many newsroom divisions had been left unattended because of the wave of resignations, after the board of directors revealed a day before the company was making a last-ditch appeal to the Security Bureau for the release of assets frozen under the national security law.
The shutdown decision was reported to have been made by the board of directors of Next Digital, the 26-year-old tabloid’s parent company, just hours after Hong Kong’s national security police on Jun 23 detained the paper’s lead editorial writer Yeung Ching-kee, 55, on suspicion of conspiracy to collude with foreign forces, the first such arrest under the Beijing-imposed legislation.
Parent company Next Digital had already warned the tabloid’s closure was imminent if HK$18 million in assets was not unfrozen by the Security Bureau.
Following a raid involving some 500 personnel, police officers arrested five of the tabloid’s top executives on Jun 17 under the national security law. Editor-in-chief Ryan Law Wai-kwong and publisher Cheung Kim-hung were charged the next day with conspiring to collude with foreign forces and remanded in custody, while the other three were released on bail without charge.
Authorities were cited as saying more than 30 published articles calling for foreign sanctions on Hong Kong and China were evidence of conspiracy to collude with external forces – an offence under the security law, which also targets acts of secession, subversion of state power and terrorism. Some of the Articles were said to predate the security law.
Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai Chee-ying is in jail serving terms for his support for pro-democracy demonstrations not related to the publication and already faces multiple charges tied to the security law.