Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Newspaper Threatened to Close

Hong Kong's pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily may stop operating after June 26. This was stated in the newspaper's internal memo. The daily will be closed if the board decides on it in a meeting on Friday (25/6).

UMMATIMES - Over the weekend, police raided the newspaper's offices in an investigation into violations of national security laws. One of the newspaper's top officials was arrested on charges of 'collusion with a foreign country' and the assets of three companies linked to the newspaper were also frozen.

On Monday (June 21), an adviser to the owner of Apple Daily's parent company Next Digital, currently jailed, Jimmy Lai, said the newspaper was forced to close "within days". "On Friday the board will decide whether (the company) will continue to operate," the internal memo said.

"If by next Friday the council decides not to resume operations, the online will stop posting news at 11:59 p.m. that day, the newspaper will stop operating on the June 26 issue," the memo added.

The company will 'accommodate' all resignations'. Police said they suspected dozens of Apple Daily articles had violated the new national security law. It was the first time authorities had said articles in the media could potentially violate the law.

On Saturday (19/6), editor-in-chief Ryan Law and chief executive officer Cheung Kim-hun were arrested on charges of collusion with a foreign country and their bail was denied. Three other high-ranking officials were also arrested on Thursday (17/6) but released for further investigation.

Three companies linked to Apple Daily have been charged with colluding with foreign countries. Hong Kong authorities disclosed the assets of the three companies amounting to US$2.3 million.

Western countries, human rights organizations and press associations have condemned the raids and arrests of the Apple Daily. So did the spokesman for the UN human rights commission.

Hong Kong and Chinese officials say press freedom cannot be used as a "shield" for those who commit crimes. They also called the criticism an act of 'interference'.

Since Lai was arrested on national security law charges last year, Next Digital has been under constant pressure from the Hong Kong government. Lai, whose assets were also frozen, is currently in prison for being involved in an unauthorized protest.