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Hong Kong's Apple Daily newspaper shutters amid Beijing-led pro-democracy crackdowns, police raid

Hong Kong police had raided the paper's newsroom twice as part of an expanding national security investigation.

Updated: June 24, 2021 - 10:51am

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The owners of Apple Daily, one of Hong Kong's largest and most popular pro-democracy newspapers, said Wednesday it is shuttering operations, amid a crackdown led by the ruling Chinese Communist Party on the mainland on perceived dissent.

Owners Next Media said Apple Daily would publish its final copy Thursday, about a week after Hong Kong police raided the paper's newsroom – arresting editors and freezing the operations bank account.

The closure also comes about one year after the ruling party in Beijing imposed a national security law, enforced by Hong Kong officials, to curtail the pro-democracy movement in the city. 

The law punishes any actions the ruling the CCP deems to be subversion, secession, terrorism, or collusion with foreign forces and could result in up to life in prison.

Jimmy Lai, who founded the newspaper in 1995, was arrested in 2020 for attending a pro-democracy rally and was charged with colluding with foreign forces to endanger national security. Five of the paper’s top editors and executives have also been accused of the same crime.

The publication's newsroom has been raided by hundreds of police officers on two occasions, seizing computers, materials, and other sensitive information. The most recent raid occurred Thursday.

Just before Wednesday's announcement, Hong Kong police arrested Yeung Ching-kee, who had written columns and editorials for the paper under the name Li Ping.

Yeung wrote after the arrest of Lai that China’s communist party has "decided to strangle Apple Daily, to kill Hong Kong’s freedom of press and freedom of speech," according to The New York Times.