Assets frozen, Hong Kong's pro-democracy media Apple Daily runs out of money

Hong Kong's pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily had only cash for weeks after the government froze its assets for violating Hong Kong's National Security Act.

UMMATIMES - Apple Daily said it had only a few weeks of cash reserves for normal operations and would struggle to pay employees.

The newspaper, whose editor-in-chief and chief executive have been detained under a new security law and whose offices were raided by 500 police officers on Thursday, said the announcement was made at a management meeting on Friday.

Three companies linked to Apple Daily have also been charged with colluding with foreign parties and authorities have frozen their assets worth HK$18 million (Rp33.4 billion).

Apple Daily planned to ask the government's Bureau of Security to cash in on the assets on Monday, but failed. Apple Daily is likely to challenge the decision in court, the newspaper reported.

"The asset freeze of the three companies affected not only salaries, but also normal newspaper operations," Apple Daily said in an article. "It is understood that the company only has enough cash to continue normal operations for a few weeks."

Apple Daily also reviewed its ink and paper stocks, he said.

Media entrepreneur Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, founder of Apple Daily (center) is detained by the national security unit in Hong Kong, China August 10, 2020. Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai became the most famous person arrested under the new national security law in Monday, was arrested on suspicion of foreign collusion when police searched the offices of his Apple Daily newspaper. [REUTERS/Tyrone Siu]

Police said dozens of Apple Daily articles allegedly violated Hong Kong's National Security Act in the first case, in which authorities cited media articles as potentially violating the controversial law.

Chief editor Ryan Law and CEO Cheung Kim-hung were charged with collusion with foreigners and were denied bail on Saturday. Three other senior executives were also arrested on Thursday and released on bail on Friday.

The arrest and scale of the Apple Daily attack have been criticized by Western countries, global rights groups, press associations and the UN's chief human rights spokesman.

Hong Kong and Chinese officials claim press freedom cannot be used as a shield for those who commit crimes and denounce the criticism as "foreign interference."

Apple Daily and its listed publisher Next Digital have come under increasing pressure since media tycoon and Beijing staunch critic Jimmy Lai was arrested last year under the law.

Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai, whose assets have also been frozen under Hong Kong's National Security Act, is already in jail for taking part in Hong Kong's pro-democracy demonstrations that the government has branded illegal.