C: P Mahoney

Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper closes after arrests

A series of raids and arrests by police on Apple Daily have forced the newspaper to close.

Apple Daily, Hong Kong’s leading pro-democracy newspaper, is to close after several of its senior executives were arrested for allegedly colluding with a foreign country.

Some 500 police had raided the offices of Apple Daily during a board meeting last week under national security laws created by the pro-China leader of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam.

At least 5 senior staff, including an editor, executives and one columnist were arrested, whilst approximately $2.3 million in assets owned by the newspaper was frozen.

“We are already closing to be honest, but they still had to show up and to make an arrest,” an Apple Daily staffer told the BBC.

“[The police wanted to] influence the outcome of the board meeting… they wanted to make sure [Apple Daily] closes quickly.”

A statement issued by the company said: “Due to the current circumstances prevailing in Hong Kong, Apple Daily in its print form will come to an end no later than the last edition on Saturday 26 June 2021 and the digital version will no longer be accessible no later than 11:59 p.m. on Saturday 26 June 2021.”

The founder of Apple Daily, Jimmy Lai, was last month jailed for over a year by authorities in Hong Kong for his part in an unlawful assembly.

Lai, who is estimated to be worth over $1bn, also had his assets frozen by the Chinese-aligned Hong Kong authorities.

“If they can induce fear in you, that’s the cheapest way to control you and the most effective way and they know it. The only way to defeat the way of intimidation is to face up to fear and don’t let it frighten you,” he had told the BBC before being jailed.

Hong Kong’s newly imposed ‘national security law’, which criminalises subversive activities, collusion with foreign powers, terror and attempts at secession with potential life sentences, has been invoked as Lai now faces two other charges relating to his pro-democracy activities.

Many activists have fled the region as Beijing imposes increasing restrictions on civil liberties, despite promising in 1997 that it would refrain from such crackdowns when Britain returned the city to its control in a “one country, two system” agreement.

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