Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper nears end after China crackdown – 21/06/2021 – world

After seeing its headquarters invaded by more than 500 police officers in an operation under the pretext of defending national security in Hong Kong, the pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily could end its activities this week.

According to an internal statement to which the Reuters news agency had access, the newspaper’s editorial board is expected to meet on Friday (25) to decide its future. “If the board decides not to continue operating, online content submission will end at 11:59 p.m. [de sexta], and the newspaper will cease its activities after the publication of the edition of June 26 “, specifies the document.

According to local media, however, the end of the Apple Daily could be even closer. The information, not yet confirmed by Next Digital, the company that owns the newspaper, is that operations can be stopped this Wednesday (23), following the resignations of most of the employees.

Hong Kong police raided the Apple Daily newsroom last week in an operation that officials said was aimed at clarifying possible violations of the country’s controversial national security law. former British colony.

Five newspaper executives were arrested and dozens of computers and phones were seized. Police also ordered the freeze of 18 million Hong Kong dollars (R $ 11.7 million). According to the Hong Kong Security Secretary, the newspaper’s newsroom was a “crime scene” and its reporting was “tools to endanger” national security.

Among those arrested are editor-in-chief Ryan Law and executive director Cheung Kim-hung. They have been charged with collusion with foreign agents – one of the four main crimes under the National Security Act enacted last year – and their bail requests were dismissed by the courts last Saturday (19 ). The three other detainees during the operation, the director of operations, the deputy editor-in-chief and the director general, were released pending further investigations.

In the internal memo, the editorial board of Apple Daily says it sent a letter to the Hong Kong security department asking that at least some of the stranded assets be released so that the newspaper does not violate the rules. labor laws by not paying its employees. The company reportedly requested a response by next Friday.

Wanted by Reuters, the security department said it would not comment on the case due to pending legal proceedings and that any request related to the financial freeze would be dealt with according to the law. In an article published in this Sunday edition (20), the Apple Daily said it plans to challenge the asset freeze in court if authorities deny the request.

The police operation was the latest setback for media mogul Jimmy Lai, 73, owner of the Apple Daily and avid critic of Beijing. He has also had his assets frozen under the National Security Act and is currently serving a prison term for participating in protests against the Chinese regime that are banned in Hong Kong.

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