Next Digital, the parent of Hong Kong’s Apple Daily, announced Wednesday that its printed paper and digital news site will close down no later than 11:59 p.m. Saturday.
The decision was made after police arrested five editors and executives and froze $2.3 million in assets linked to the paper last week. Hong Kong Free Press reported that the paper made the decision on the same day that the paper’s editorial writer was arrested under the controversial security law.
The Global Network for Press Freedom called the announcement “devastating news” for press freedom in the city.
Last week, hundreds of police officers in Hong Kong swarmed the office and arrested several executives in what was called a “blatant attack” on its editorial team.
The paper ran its own story about the raid and said five of its executives were arrested for breaking Article 29 of Beijing’s controversial national security law, which prohibits “collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security.”
An adviser for Jimmy Lai, the Hong Kong billionaire and founder of Next Digital, called the raid a “blatant attack.”
The law has been used to arrest over a hundred pro-democracy figures since it was first implemented in June last year. Thursday’s raid will do little to temper the concerns of many in the city about their freedoms and future.
The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board praised the paper’s staff for producing a paper under the threat of arrest.
“They are an example of real journalistic courage that should educate an American media that likes to play up its bravery in challenging the government while living under the protection of the First Amendment and a free society,” the paper wrote. “Mr. Lai and his journalists have put their freedom at risk to challenge a real tyranny.”
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