Hong Kong’s last pro-democracy newspaper ‘Apple Daily’ announces closure

Hong Kong’s last pro-democracy newspaper, the Apple Daily, will go dark from the end of this week, the paper’s board of directors confirmed on Wednesday. The board blamed the imminent closure on “the current circumstances prevailing” in the once-semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

Those “circumstances” are China’s methodical crackdown to silence dissent, including in Hong Kong, a territory that was, until only about a year ago, an oasis of democracy, albeit limited, on Chinese soil. The publication’s offices were raided last week over allegations that several reports had breached a controversial national security law. Company-linked assets worth HK$18m ($2.3m; £1.64m) were later frozen. Police also detained its chief editor and five other executives. The tabloid has been critical of the Hong Kong and Chinese leadership. Its founder Jimmy Lai is already in jail on a string of charges. The paper’s management said that “in view of staff members’ safety”, it had decided “to cease operation immediately after midnight” – making Thursday’s publication the final printed edition. The digital version of the 26-year old paper will no longer be updated after midnight. A separate announcement by publisher Next Digital thanked the readers for their “loyal support” as well as its journalists, staff and advertisers.

Inocencio was the only U.S. broadcaster inside Apple Daily’s newsroom on Monday evening as the company streamed its last digital news program. As the anchor signed off, tears started to roll in the control room. By Tuesday, Apply Daily had stopped updating its English-language website and English-language Twitter feed.