June 23, 2021 – 12:52
Hong Kong, the largest pro-democracy newspaper in Hong Kong, has announced that it will close later this week.
This decision is a serious blow to media freedom in this city.
The board of directors said on June 23 that the print and online editions will not be published after June 26, due to the “current situation in Hong Kong”.
The decision comes after the arrest of the newspaper’s editor-in-chief and five other executive officials on suspicion of violating the new National Security Law.
Officials have also frozen $ 2.3 million worth of assets owned by newspaper-affiliated companies.
Police have cited dozens of articles published by Apple Daily as evidence of alleged plots to impose foreign sanctions on Hong Kong and China.
The billionaire owner of the newspaper and founder Jimmy Lai, has been sentenced to prison for participating in pro-democracy protests, which erupted in Hong Kong in 2019 and challenged Beijing’s leadership.
He also faces new charges under the National Security Act, including co-operation with foreign states.
The law, which has been criticized internationally, turns them into criminal offenses: calls for secession, terrorism, co-operation with foreign forces, and includes the punishment of life imprisonment.
Authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong have said the legislation was needed to bring stability, but critics believe it is intended to silence dissidents.
More than 100 people have been arrested under this law.
Hong Kong is part of China, but operates under the “one state, two systems” organization, which means that the city has its own legal system and rights, which include freedom of expression and freedom of the press.
Many people in Hong Kong, as well as human rights groups in Western democracies, have accused Beijing of undermining the city’s freedoms and autonomy in recent years.