Hong Kong's Apple Daily print edition announces closure after police raid

Grant Boone
June 24, 2021

It said the decision was "based on employee safety and manpower considerations". Staff said that some colleagues have received threatening anonymous calls in recent days.

A separate announcement by publisher Next Digital thanked the readers for their "loyal support" as well as its journalists, staff and advertisers.

Apple Daily is known for its critical coverage of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the current pro-Beijing Hong Kong government over past years of mass protests. Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai was charged with fraud a year ago, accused of improperly subleasing Apple's office space to other companies he controls.

Cable TV and Now TV reported the paper's last edition may be published as soon as Thursday.

But many local and global outlets are questioning whether they have a future there.

The paper ran its own story about the raid and said five of its executives were arrested for breaking Article 29 of Beijing's controversial national security law, which prohibits "collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security".

A police source told AFP the arrested man wrote columns for Apple Daily under the pen name Li Ping.

The government campaign against Apple Daily, which included raids of its newsroom by hundreds of police officers, caps months of scrutiny of Hong Kong's once-vibrant independent media landscape.

"People around the world probably will accuse the Hong Kong government of forcing Apple Daily to close down".

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Party sources told the BBC that the meeting was "robust", and said it had become clear that Mr Poots knew he had to resign. A DUP MP added on Friday night: "There has got to be an end to this interference in devolution by the Government".

The two have been denied bail.

China introduced the national security law in Hong Kong a year ago in response to massive pro-democracy protests that swept through the administrative region. This followed the closure of Apple's English language and financial news services and its webcasts earlier in the week.

They also arrested the editor-in-chief and four other executives at their homes and froze HK$18m ($2.3m; £1.64m) of assets owned by three companies linked to Apple Daily - Apple Daily Limited, Apple Daily Printing Limited and AD internet Limited. With the authorities warning local banks against dealing with Next accounts, the company has since had difficulty collecting payments due. "But the fact of the matter is, they don't need to", he told the BBC. Many did, making it increasingly hard to sustain news operations as the week progressed.

Hong Kong has seen its ranking in the global press freedom index compiled by Reporters Without Borders tumble to 80th place, out of 180 countries, from 58th in 2013. "Apple Daily's website will stop updates from midnight".

The EU also mourned Apple's shutdown in a statement Wednesday.

Hong Kong's sole remaining pro-democracy newspaper published its last edition Thursday after five editors and executives were arrested and millions of dollars in its assets were frozen as part of China's increasing crackdown on dissent in the semi-autonomous city.

A man accused of driving a motorcycle into police officers while carrying a Hong Kong protest flag has become the first person to stand trial under the national security law implemented past year as China's central government tightened control over the city. Meanwhile, the first trial under the law commenced Wednesday with no jury, a rarity under the city's British-built common law system.

Tong faces charges of terrorism and inciting secession, as well as an alternative charge of risky driving causing grievous bodily harm, which can lead to up to seven years in prison. Prosecutors recently added a charge of risky driving causing grievous bodily harm.

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