HK’s Apple Daily says it may shut down

Hong Kong’s embattled pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily reported on Monday that its board of directors has asked authorities to unfreeze some assets so it can pay salaries and avoid labour violations, and that the board will meet again on Friday to decide if the newspaper will cease operations.

Police last week arrested five top editors and executives of Apple Daily under the city’s tough national security law on suspicion of foreign collusion, searched its offices and froze $2.3 million worth of assets of three companies linked to the newspaper.

The arrests and freezing of assets came as Hong Kong authorities crack down on dissenting voices as Beijing tightens control over the territory in what critics say is an erosion of freedoms it promised the city for 50 years when the former British colony was handed over to China in 1997.

Defending democracy

Apple Daily has been outspoken in defending Hong Kong’s freedoms, and in recent years has often criticized the Chinese and Hong Kong governments for limiting the city’s democratic freedoms as well as constricting the rights of free speech and assembly not found on mainland China.

The newspaper said in an article on its website on Monday that if its board decides on Friday to cease operations of the newspaper, its website could stop publishing as early as Saturday morning, and Saturday’s print edition of the newspaper would be its last.

An internal memo sent to some employees at Apple Daily also stated that those who wish to resign immediately could do so.

Apple Daily said in an article on Sunday that it may challenge the decision to freeze its assets in court if the city’s Security Bureau denies its request.

The Security Bureau said it would not comment on the details of the case because legal proceedings were ongoing.

It said endangering national security is a “very serious crime.”

“We handle such crimes according to the law, targeting at illegal acts, and invoke the power to freeze offense-related properties based on need and the law,” the bureau said in an English-language statement.

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Printable version | Aug 1, 2021 5:53:10 AM |

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