Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper announces shutdown after Chinese pressure – 23/06/2021 – world

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Apple Daily will close its doors no later than Saturday, its publisher, Next Digital, said after police arrested another employee and besieged the daily’s headquarters.

The end of the popular 26-year-old tabloid, which mixes pro-democracy rhetoric, celebrity gossip and investigative journalism, has heightened the perception of risk to media freedom and other rights in the Chinese-ruled city.

In a statement posted on its website, Next Digital said the decision to shut down the newspaper, which employs around 600 journalists, was taken “due to the current circumstances in Hong Kong.”

Police last week froze the assets of companies linked to the newspaper and arrested five executives. On Wednesday (23), a columnist was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy with foreign forces.

Authorities said dozens of articles in the Apple Daily may have violated China’s Hong Kong security law, with first-level authorities targeting members of the media using the new legislation.

Western human rights groups, media organizations and governments have criticized last week’s raid on the Apple Daily newsroom by some 500 police officers and the seizure of journalistic material.

Police, who normally do not release the names of detainees, said they arrested a 55-year-old man. A senior executive at Next Digital, which publishes the Apple Daily, said one of the vehicle’s main editors and a reporter were arrested without identifying them.

A police official said he had no information about a second arrest.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said Tuesday that criticism of the operation last week and the arrests in the Apple Daily were attempts to “embellish” acts that endanger national security.

Apple Daily has come under increasing pressure since its owner, Beijing mogul and critic Jimmy Lai, was arrested last year. Lai, whose assets have also been frozen under the security law, is already serving a prison sentence.

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