Apple Daily Could Close “Within Days” After Hong Kong Assets Freeze | Freedom of press

The company adviser says action under the safety law means it cannot access some $ 50 million in funds to pay staff and suppliers.

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Apple Daily to be forced to shut down “in days” after authorities used China’s national security law to freeze company assets as it arrested editor chief of the newspaper and four other directors, an adviser to the jailed mogul Jimmy Lai told Reuters on Monday.

Mark Simon, speaking by phone from the United States, said the company was no longer able to access its funds and would hold a board meeting on Monday to discuss how to move forward. the front.

“We thought we could get there at the end of the month,” Simon told the news agency. “It’s more and more difficult. It is essentially a matter of days.

His comments indicate the shutdown is imminent, even after Apple Daily said on Sunday that its asset freeze had left the newspaper with cash for “a few weeks” for normal operations.

The news comes two days after Editor-in-Chief Ryan Law, 47, and Managing Director Cheung Kim-hung, 59, were denied bail after being charged under the National Security Act. collusion with foreign forces.

Apple Daily editor-in-chief Ryan Law returns to detention center after being remanded in custody on Saturday [Lam Yik/Reuters]

Three other senior executives were also arrested last Thursday when 500 police raided the newspaper’s offices in a case that drew condemnation from Western countries, human rights groups and the UN’s chief human rights spokesperson.

The three were released on bail.

Simon told Reuters it has become impossible to conduct banking operations.

“The salespeople tried to put money in our accounts and got turned down. We can’t do banking. Some sellers have tried to do this as a favor. We just wanted to know and it was rejected, ”he said.

Speaking to U.S. news channel CNN earlier, Simon said the company had around $ 50 million, but was unable to access the funds.

The publisher has come under increasing pressure since its owner Jimmy Lai was arrested under the National Security Act last August, marking the first time that the company’s headquarters have been raided. Lai, 73, is now imprisoned and tried under the National Security Act. In May, the authorities also frozen certain assets belonging to the longtime Beijing critic also saw some of his assets frozen.

Three companies linked to Apple Daily are also being sued for collusion with a foreign country and authorities have frozen 18 million Hong Kong dollars ($ 2.3 million) of their assets.

China imposed the National Security Law on Hong Kong last June, saying it was necessary to restore “stability” to territory that was rocked by mass protests in 2019, some of which turned violent.

the broad law criminalizes acts such as subversion, sedition, collusion with foreign forces and secession with possible life imprisonment, but critics said it was being used to suppress legitimate political debate with dozens of politicians and activists pro-democracy among the more than 100 decrees since its creation put into force.

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