Jun 21, 2021 - World

Hong Kong pro-democracy paper faces closure threat after assets freeze

A protest in support of Apple Daily newspaper was staged outside China Embassy in London, England, June 17
A protest in support of Apple Daily newspaper outside China's Embassy in London, England, on Thursday. Photo: May James/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Hong Kong's Apple Daily will close within days because the pro-democracy newspaper's assets have been frozen under China's national security law, an adviser to the company's imprisoned founder Jimmy Lai told media Sunday night.

Why it matters: It's the latest blow to the democratic movement in the Asian financial hub, as Beijing continues to crack down on dissent under the law, which landed Lai and other pro-democracy leaders in jail and led to the arrest last week of five senior Apple Daily executives.

What's happening: Apple Daily reported Sunday that authorities had frozen the news outlet's assets and that its parent company Next Digital "only has enough cash to continue normal operations for several weeks."

  • In an interview with CNN, Mark Simon, an adviser to Lai, said the firm had about $50 million that it couldn't access because of the action.
  • Simon told Reuters that they initially believed the paper could "make it to the end of the month." But he said the situation was getting "harder and harder" and it's "essentially a matter of days."
"Vendors tried to put money into our accounts and were rejected. We can't bank. Some vendors tried to do that as a favor. We just wanted to find out and it was rejected."
ā€” Simon to Reuters
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