Hong Kong pro-democracy paper to close

  • Hong Kong pro-democracy paper to close

Hong Kong pro-democracy paper to close

Hong Kong's pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper will publish its final edition on Thursday after police arrested five editors and executives and froze £1.65million in assets.

Authorities froze on Thursday the equivalent of $2.3 million from three related companies and arrested five Apple Daily executives, seizing dozens of computers and hard drives from its newsroom.

Police, which typically do not disclose the names of those arrested, said they arrested a 55-year-old man on those charges. The Apple Daily says if the freeze is not lifted, it will cease operations after publishing its morning edition on Saturday, as funds are running low.

Authorities have not released a list of Apple Daily's articles or columns that have been deemed a national security crime.

The city's justice secretary invoked the no jury clause for Tong's trial arguing that juror safety could be compromised in Hong Kong's febrile political landscape, a decision first revealed by AFP.

In a statement on its website, Next Digital said the decision to close the newspaper, which employs about 600 journalists, was taken "due to the current circumstances prevailing in Hong Kong". On Wednesday, police arrested a columnist on suspicion of conspiring to collude with a foreign country or foreign forces.

A number of protest leaders and other activists have been charged under the law.

The police operation against Apple Daily drew criticism from the UK, US and European Union, which said Hong Kong and Chinese authorities are targeting the freedoms promised to the city when the former British colony was returned to the control of Beijing in 1997.

Under the new law, the burden is now placed on the defendant to prove they will not break the law if released on bail.

Earlier this year, officials gutted the city's public broadcaster, Radio Television Hong Kong, by letting go reporters, axing shows considered critical of the government and appointing a new editor-in-chief with no media experience.

Rights groups, media organisations and Western governments have criticised last week's police raid on the newspaper.

Apple Daily has come under increasing pressure since its tycoon owner and staunch Beijing critic, Jimmy Lai, was arrested previous year under the contentious legislation.

An adviser for Jimmy Lai, the Hong Kong billionaire and founder of Next Digital, called the raid a "blatant attack".

But she said, "Don't try to underplay the significance of breaching the national security law, and don't try to beautify these acts of endangering national security".