Hundreds of Hong Kong residents queued for hours to buy the latest issue of the Apple Daily Thursday morning, a day after the pro-democracy newspaper was shut down following the arrest of top journalists and the government’s freezing of its assets.
The tabloid founded by the media mogul Jimmy Lai He has long angered authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing with their coverage of city officials and their stinging criticism of the Chinese Communist Party.
It Close displayed As a sign of the deterioration of civil liberties and the suppression of political dissent in the city after China imposed a strict national security law last year in the wake of pro-democracy protests in 2019.
The law increased Beijing’s control over the territory, which had promised a high degree of autonomy for 50 years after the handover of rule from British rule to China in 1997.
Dominic Raab, Britain’s foreign secretary, said the closing of the Apple Daily was evidence that the national security law was “used as a tool to restrict freedoms and punish dissent – rather than to maintain public order”.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has responded to Western criticism of the forced closure of the newspaper, accusing the United States of “beautifying” the criminal acts that endanger the country.
Hong Kong authorities have accused the newspaper and its managers of threatening national security by publishing calls for sanctions against the city and its officials in the wake of the 2019 protests. Chinese state media have described Apple Daily as a separatist.
Apple Daily has printed 1 million copies of The last edition is on Thursday, much more than its usual distribution of about 150,000 copies.
On some newsstands, the depth of the lines was hundreds. In Mong Kok, one of Kowloon’s busiest shopping districts, supporters lined up at 1am newsstands to get a copy straight from the presses. Several vendors were sold out by Thursday morning.
A 55-year-old man, who said he’s read Apple Daily since its launch 26 years ago, said, “I was so sad he didn’t shed tears.” I read everything in the newspaper, including the columns, sports, and everything. . . I can’t think of any other newspaper to buy instead.”
In the offices of Next Digital, the parent company of Apple Daily, employees gathered on the rooftop and polished their mobile phones for the supporters assembled below. Many employees quit in the run-up to the lockdown, especially after the police Company offices raided Last week, five executives, including Ryan Low, the newspaper’s editor, were arrested under the National Security Act — the first time the national security rule has been used against journalists.
Apple Daily news articles and other content were shut down at midnight Thursday in a possible signal of concerns about more legal troubles the company is facing. Internet users were quick to archive the material on Hong Kong web forums.