Washington (Bloomberg) – The United States and its allies, including Germany, Japan and Britain, have criticized the Hong Kong authorities’ repressive crackdown on the outright Apple Daily and its employees.
In a joint statement issued on Saturday (July 10) by the 21-nation Media Freedom Alliance, governments condemned the use of China’s national security law in Hong Kong to shut down the newspaper and arrest its owner Jimmy Lai and his staff. .
They expressed “serious concerns” about the shutdown, and warned of increased censorship of the media if further legislation is passed.
“Using the National Security Act to suppress the press is a dangerous and negative step that undermines Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents,” the US State Department statement said.
It called on Hong Kong and Chinese authorities to maintain press freedom “in accordance with China’s international legal obligations.”
The pro-democracy Apple Daily published its latest issue on June 24 as people in Hong Kong scrambled to buy it in protest of the government’s crackdown.
The newspaper said it was forced to stop publishing after its bank accounts were frozen and senior editors arrested for violating Hong Kong’s national security law.
The Apple Daily has built a reputation for grueling investigations over the past 26 years, exposing the hidden wealth of top Chinese Communist Party leaders and the unethical practices of Hong Kong officials. She was known for providing quick reports and photos on entertainment, crime, and celebrity gossip.
Lai, 73, was jailed on charges related to his support of pro-democracy protests. His personal assets, including shares in Apple Daily’s parent company, Next Digital, have been frozen.
The statement was signed on Saturday by Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Slovakia, Switzerland and Britain. and the United States.
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