Hong Kong’s last pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily has published its final edition, after announcing it is closing down.
This comes days after authorities arrested and charged some of its top directors and editors under the national security law for “conspiring to collude with foreign countries or forces to endanger national security” for articles police said were calling for foreign sanctions on Hong Kong and China. Police also froze $2.3 million of the company’s assets.
The paper said on Wednesday that it will close by Saturday Jun. 26 “out of consideration for the safety of its staff.” Supporters gathered outside the Apple Daily’s office in the rain soon after the announcement, holding up the flashlights on their phones and chanting “fighting!“.
Apple Daily staff stood at balconies and windows, waving back flashlights and shouting “Thank you Hong Kong” to the crowds.
One million copies, 10 times more than usual, were printed overnight on Wednesday to mark the paper’s 26-year history. The final edition was headlined “Hong Kongers’ painful farewell in the rain: ‘We support Apple Daily’.”
Thousands of people lined up to buy the paper to show their support early Thursday morning. By 8:30 am, the newspaper was sold out across most of the city’s stands, according to The Week.
The closure is seen as a blow to press freedom under the pressure of Beijing, reported by BBC.
“People will miss Apple Daily, because Apple Daily is a platform where people can speak freely and criticize the government and Beijing,” a staff member said.
The head of the Hong Kong Journalists’ Association said it was “a huge worry for the city’s freedom of speech”.
“We will be very worried if there are consequences for writing an article. I’m afraid that it will make society feel, or how I feel now, that people can be put in prison because of what they write.”