Apple Daily announced its imminent closure this evening, in a dark day for Hong Kong’s press freedom and democracy.
Founded by Jimmy Lai, who is currently jailed on a series of charges including unlawful assembly, fraud and colluding with foreign forces, Apple Daily has been a longstanding and well-read publisher for 26 years.
This closure comes days after more than 100 police raided their offices, arrested five Apple Daily executives and froze their assets. Another columnist was arrested on Wednesday afternoon.
These incidents occurred under a new National Security Law, which critics say restricts the territory’s autonomy and undermines the human rights of its citizens.
Peter Greste, Spokesperson and Director of the AJF said:
“Since the national security law was introduced, we’ve seen: the arrest and ongoing detention of Jimmy Lai as he awaits trial; the freezing of a news publisher’s assets so they can no longer pay their staff; the mass-raid of the publisher’s offices – in numbers fit for terrorists – and the arrest of five executives; and the arrest of a columnist during a company board meeting only days later. This is not normal. This is not democracy.”
“Press freedom and democracy cannot function when journalism in the public interest is restricted or denied. Apple Daily was a vocal critic of the government, but that should not be a crime. They were a legitimate news outlet. If a publisher like Apple Daily cannot exist in Hong Kong anymore, it is hard to see what remains of their democracy.”
“The AJF implores Hong Kong to re-commit to the democratic principle of press freedom, release the Apple Daily journalists and employees now in custody, and unfreeze the company’s assets so they can continue to report freely.”