Updated Jun 23, 2021 - World

Hong Kong pro-democracy paper to close amid Beijing crackdown

A customer grabs a copy of Apple Daily newspaper at a newsstand in Hong Kong on June 22, 2021.

A customer grabs a copy of Apple Daily newspaper at a newsstand in Hong Kong on Tuesday. Photo: Miguel Candela/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Apple Daily, Hong Kong's biggest pro-democracy newspaper, announced Wednesday that it will close at the weekend following the freezing of its assets under China's national security law.

Why it matters: It's the latest blow to the Asian financial hub's democracy movement and to free speech. Authorities have used the law that gives the government broad power to limit people's political freedom to arrest several journalists at the news outlet, founded by imprisoned tycoon Jimmy Lai.

  • Authorities used the law to charge Lai and other pro-democracy activists for organizing a massive unauthorized protest in 2019.
  • Hong Kong police cited media articles as potentially violating the law when they arrested five Apple Daily executives last week — the first time the law has been used for this reason in the former British colony.

Of note: The closure announcement comes hours after police arrested an Apple Daily columnist, who's also been accused of "conspiring to collude with foreign countries or foreign forces to endanger national security" under the law.

What they're saying: Parent company Next Digital said in a statement that its board "regrets to announce that due to the current circumstances prevailing in Hong Kong, Apple Daily in its print form will come to an end no later than the last edition" this Saturday.

  • Its website "will no longer be accessible no later than 11:59pm on Saturday," the statement added.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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