The Hong Kong pro-democracy tabloid newspaper Apple Daily has announced that it will halt print and digital operations amid unrelenting pressure from the Hong Kong and Chinese authorities.
The final print edition will be distributed Thursday, June 24, the Hong Kong Free Press website reported today. Apple Daily’s digital edition will go offline on Saturday.
Authorities in the Chinese territory ramped up pressure on the newspaper last week, arresting five of its executives and freezing assets worth HK$ 18 million (about 2 million euros). The pressure continued with the arrest of an opinion writer. Apple Daily’s founder, Jimmy Lai, is currently serving a 20-months prison sentence.
Hong Kong officials have accused Apple Daily of violating the Beijing-imposed National Security Law, claiming that articles published by the newspaper amounted to collusion with foreign governments.
IPI Executive Director Barbara Trionfi said:
“The harassment of Apple Daily is yet another effort by authorities in Beijing to silence a critical news outlet. This violates the right of Hong Kong’s people to access independent news and is a further step toward the eradication of press freedom in the Special Administrative Region.
“One year after its enactment, China’s national security law for Hong Kong has been revealed to be exactly what critics feared: a ready-made instrument to suppress independent news coverage. The international community must not remain silent as Hong Kong’s freedoms are removed brick-by-brick. The IPI global network stands in solidarity with Apple Daily’s journalists and staff.”
Apple Daily was founded in 1995 with a pro-democracy editorial line and has frequently been critical of the Chinese government. Hong Kong’s national security law took effect on June 30 last year. It was widely seen as a response to pro-democracy protests in the territory. The law’s vague and broad interpretation of national security gives Beijing virtually free rein to rein in Hong Kong’s once vibrant media landscape.