After a widespread police action that had far-reaching consequences, the curtain fell on the Apple Daily, the well-known pro-democracy newspaper in Hong Kong. The latest issue in print will appear Thursday, publisher Next Digital reports.
What Mark Simon, chief adviser to Apple Daily owner and media mogul Jimmy Lai, warned on Monday, has come true. “The newspaper is still on newsstands, but it will take days before it is gone,” he said before a board meeting. On Wednesday, he decided to permanently disappear the tabloid newspaper, which was critical of the government.
Everything has to do with the raid on the editors last week. With a major show of force, the publisher, editor-in-chief and three directors were arrested Thursday for allegedly violating Hong Kong’s notorious security law. This is what Beijing pushed last year and criminalizes, among other things, the pursuit of independence. Owner Jimmy Lai is serving a prison sentence based on this law.
In addition to the arrests, which the European Union and the United Kingdom describe as a “violation of press freedom,” authorities have also frozen all of the newspaper’s assets. As a result, Apple Daily can no longer pay 600 journalists, and shutdowns are inevitable. “Thank you to all our readers, subscribers, advertisers and residents of Hong Kong for 26 years of love and support. This is where we say goodbye, take care of yourself.”
The shutdown represents another blow to free speech in the former British crown colony, which is increasingly in the hands of China. Prime Minister Carrie Lam said earlier this week that it was not the job of the Hong Kong media to “undermine” the government.