The statement came after 500 Hong Kong police took part in a raid that saw officers sift through reporters' computers and notebooks at Next Digital's pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily, the first case in which authorities have cited media articles as potentially violating the national security law.
Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper 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 Wednesday that its print edition and online edition will cease no later than Saturday due to “the current circumstances prevailing in Hong Kong.”
The widely 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.
It was the freezing of assets that spelled the paper’s demise. The board of directors had earlier this week written to Hong Kong’s 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 say Hong Kong and Chinese authorities are targeting the freedoms promised to the city when the former British colony was returned to China in 1997.
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.
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