- Following a series of arrests under the national security law, the newspaper’s financial assets were frozen and it is unable to pay employees
- Board members of parent company Next Digital will meet on Friday to decide whether the tabloid should continue to publish
Hong Kong’s Apple Daily newspaper could be shuttering its operations and publish its last print edition as soon as this Saturday if it is unable to get the approval of the Security Bureau to unfreeze its assets to pay staff.
Facing mounting pressure after a series of arrests of its leadership ranks and a freeze on its financial assets, parent company Next Digital will decide on Friday whether to continue operations, according to messages circulating among employees.
On Sunday, the tabloid operated by parent company Next Digital reported that its board was planning to write to the bureau to ask it to release some of the HK$18 million in assets frozen during a crackdown on the paper’s top leadership under the national security law on Thursday.
Apple Daily confirmed in a Monday report that Next Digital’s board members will meet on Friday to decide whether to cease the newspaper’s operation. If the decision is made, the report said, Saturday’s print edition will be its last.
On Thursday, the police force’s national security unit arrested the paper’s editor-in-chief and four other executives they accused of being responsible for the publication of at least 30 articles allegedly calling for foreign sanctions, an offence under the Beijing-imposed legislation. The arrests marked the first time a top editor at a media outlet had been detained under the security law.
Editor-in-chief Ryan Law Wai-kwong and publisher Cheung Kim-hung were charged on Friday with conspiring to collude with foreign forces, and were remanded in custody. The other three were released on bail pending further investigation.
Founder Jimmy Lai Chee-ying is in jail serving a sentence on an unrelated conviction and faces multiple charges tied to the national security law.
Authorities froze HK$18 million worth of assets belonging to three companies affiliated with the newspaper, and seized 38 journalists’ computers at the tabloid’s Tseung Kwan O headquarters.