Apple Daily will publish its last printed edition Thursday and cease digital updates midnight, marking an end to the 26-year-old pro-democracy paper after arrests and an assets freeze less than a week ago left it no choice but to close for good.
“Due to concerns about our staff’s safety and manpower considerations… tomorrow (June 24) is our last day of printing and the website will terminate updates at midnight,” Apple Daily wrote Wednesday.
Next Digital, which owns the tabloid, said less than two hours before Apple Daily‘s announcement that the paper’s final day will be Saturday.
The whirlwind closure comes less than a week after national security police arrested five directors and raided the paper’s headquarters. The directors are accused of calling for foreign sanctions on Hong Kong and China, which is illegal under Beijing’s national security legislation.
Authorities said they found evidence of national security law violations in over 30 articles, but did not name the offending pieces.
Earlier Wednesday, police arrested a senior columnist at the paper who writes under the name Li Ping, according to AFP. Li published his most recent editorial Tuesday, headlined “Don’t wet the bed right before dawn.” In the piece, he criticized academics’ lack of conscience in recording politically sensitive historical events.
Police confirmed the arrest of a 55-year-old man in Tsueng Kwan O, suspected of colluding with foreign forces under the national security law.
Editor-in-Chief Ryan Law and Publisher Cheung Kim-hung were charged with foreign collusion under the security law, while the other three directors were released on bail. Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai has been behind bars since last December for participating in unauthorized protests in 2019.
The tabloid had warned earlier this week that it might be forced to wind up its operations if authorities do not unfreeze their HK$18 million (US$2.3 million) in funding as it is unable to pay its staff and vendors. Apple Daily’s English edition and financial news desk have already ceased updating.
President of Apple Daily’s sister publication Next Magazine, Wong Lai-sheung, bid her readers farewell in a Facebook post Wednesday morning.
“Some of my colleagues find it hard to let go, still holding onto a glimmer of hope. I can only bluntly tell them, ‘Don’t fantasize!’” Wong wrote. “We have worked hard for Next Magazine and enjoyed press freedom, so no regrets.”
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