Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily forced to shut down

This move came a week after five editors of the newspaper were detained on suspicion of colluding with foreigners to endanger national security.

Copies of Next Digital's Apple Daily newspapers are seen at a newsstand in Hong Kong, China June 17, 2021. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy newspaper, Apple Daily, will close by this weekend after police arrested five editors and executives and froze $2.3 million in assets linked to the paper.

The board of directors said in a statement on Wednesday that its print edition and online edition will cease by Saturday due to the current circumstances prevailing in Hong Kong.

The expected move followed last week’s arrests. The five 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 impose foreign sanctions on Hong Kong and China.

Also read: Apple Daily editors arrested under Hong Kong security law

The paper along with its activist founder, Jimmy Lai, had become faces of the pro-democracy movement and immediate adversaries of Hong Kong’s government and police.

Apple Daily was pronounced dead when its assets froze. Earlier this week, the board of directors had written to the Hong Kong security bureau requesting the release of some of its funds so that the company could pay wages.

The police operation against Apple Daily drew criticism from the U.S., the E.U. and Britain, which said Hong Kong and Chinese authorities are targeting freedom promised to the city when the former British colony was returned to China in 1997.

Also read: Pro-democracy push causes transport chaos in Hong Kong

Chinese and Hong Kong officials have said the media must abide by the law, and that press freedom cannot be used as a shield for illegal activities.

Apple Daily, in their statement, said, “Apple Daily thanks its readers, subscribers, advertisers and Hongkongers for their love and support in the past 26 years. Farewell, and take care.”