HONG KONG – Hong Kong pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily said it would print its latest edition on Thursday, after a tumultuous year in which it was raided by police and its tycoon owner and other staff were arrested under a new national security law.
The end of the popular 26-year-old tabloid, which mixes pro-democracy rhetoric with racy celebrity gossip and surveys of those in power, has heightened alarm over media freedom and other rights in the city under Chinese rule.
In a statement posted on its website, Next Digital said the decision to shut down the newspaper, which employs around 600 journalists, was taken “due to the current circumstances in Hong Kong.”
Cable TV and Now TV reported that the newspaper’s latest edition could be released as early as Thursday.
Police last week froze the assets of companies linked to the newspaper and arrested five executives. On Wednesday, she arrested a columnist on suspicion of conspiracy to collude with a foreign country or foreign forces.
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Authorities have said dozens of articles in the Apple Daily may have violated the security law, the first time authorities have targeted news articles under the law.
Rights groups, media organizations and Western governments have criticized last week’s raid on the Apple Daily newsroom by around 500 agents and the seizure of journalistic material on national security grounds.
A senior Next Digital executive said an editorial editor and journalist were arrested, without identifying them. It was not known why the journalist had been arrested.
Police, who usually do not release the names of those arrested, said one of those detained was a 55-year-old man. A police official said the department had no immediate information about a second arrest.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday that criticism of last week’s raid and arrests against Apple Daily amounted to attempts to “embellish” acts endangering national security.
Apple Daily has come under increasing pressure since its owner mogul and ardent Beijing critic Jimmy Lai was arrested last year under the disputed legislation. Lai, whose assets have also been frozen under the security law, is already serving a prison term for participating in unauthorized rallies.