Apple Daily Closing
On Thursday, June 17, Hong Kong’s press freedom took a huge blow. This blow came in the form of police raids and virtual destruction of the 26-year-old newspaper known as Apple Daily. The raid came after the newspaper was labeled as a national security threat by the Chinese government.
The raid consisted of about 500 police officers. They entered Apple Daily’s headquarters with a warrant that allowed them to seize the computers and phones of the reporters. By the time the police left, about 40 computers and dozens of hard drives went with them.
That is not the only thing that happened, though. Five of the company’s top executives were also arrested on Thursday. The two notable executives arrested are editor-in-chief Ryan Law and chief Executive officer Cheung Kim-Hung. They are currently being held without bail on charges of colluding with foreign or external forces. The other three executives who were arrested were released on bail and await trial for the same crimes. The three companies linked to Apple Daily, Apple Daily LTD, Apple Daily Printing LTD and AD Internet LTD, are also facing the same colluding charges as the five executives. And this all comes while the paper’s founder Jimmy Lai is in prison for taking part in unauthorized assemblies promoting democracy back in 2019.
It did not stop there either. China’s national security department also blocked all assets going to Apple Daily. While they still had some funds to keep operations going, Apple Daily said that it would not be enough to continue, should the accounts stay blocked. The amount of money that has been cut off is estimated to be about HK$18 million, or $2.3 million. This has left the company unable to pay their employees or even to pay for electricity. The paper’s parent company, Next Media, stated that they were going to make an attempt to have their accounts unblocked by national security. However, they also said that if assets were still cut off by Friday, then they would be forced to put an end to the newspaper for good.
Apple Daily has been around since 1995, and ever since its beginning, residents of Hong Kong have been able to rely on it for real and virtually uncensored information. It has always been a promoter of democracy, often taking shots at the communist leaders of China. They managed to survive for more than two and a half decades without many major issues, despite often being targets for criticism in return by the Chinese government.
Both the EU and the US have commented on the situation, noting that they are deeply concerned with the seemingly political basis for the raids, and that China is trying to stifle the freedom of the press in Hong Kong. China responded to these claims, saying that it was not an attempt to stifle press freedom. Rather, they were putting a stop to a problem that posed a threat to the country’s national security. China’s national security department would go on to say that several articles published by Apple Daily explicitly violated the one-year-old law used to charge the paper, though they never named any specifics.
It is clear to see that this situation is far from over, so make sure to go give us a follow on Twitter to get all of the breaking news updates.