End of the road for troubled Apple Daily
Hong Kong's tabloid Apple Daily will stop publishing from on Thursday, following last week's arrest of five editors and executives and the freezing of US$2.3 million in assets under the city's year-old national security law.
The board of directors of parent company Next Media said in a statement on Wednesday that the print edition and online edition will cease due to "the current circumstances prevailing in Hong Kong." The paper later said Thursday's edition will be its last.
The Apple Daily announcement coincided with the start of the city's first trial under the national security law.
The widely expected move to close Apple Daily followed last week's raid of its newsroom and arrests of the five editors and executives, who were detained on suspicion of colluding with foreigners to endanger national security. Police cited more than 30 articles published by the paper as evidence of an alleged conspiracy to encourage foreign nations to impose sanctions on China.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the recent enforcement actions had nothing to do with normal news work but were aimed at suspected acts endangering national security. One could not say that it was a blow to press freedom because news organizations or their responsible persons got involved.
The heads of news organizations could not use news organizations as a protective shield for not abiding by the law, she added.
Police also arrested a 55-year-old man on Wednesday on suspicion of foreign collusion to endanger national security. According to Apple Daily, which cited unidentified sources, the man writes editorials for the newspaper under the pseudonym Li Ping.
The paper's founder, media tycoon Jimmy Lai, is facing charges under the national security law for foreign collusion and is currently serving a prison sentence for his involvement in unauthorized assemblies in 2019.
The national security law imposed last year criminalizes subversion, secession, terrorism and foreign collusion. So far, more than 100 people have been arrested under the security law.