Hong Kong's Next Weekly magazine announces end of operation

Hong Kong's Next Weekly magazine announces end of operation

The paper will stop publishing online from midnight tonight with the final print edition running tomorrow, while the digital version will no longer be accessible after Saturday.

The outspoken tabloid has always been a thorn in Beijing's side, with unapologetic support for the city's pro-democracy movement and caustic criticism of China's authoritarian leaders.

Next Digital, the parent of Hong Kong's Apple Daily, announced Wednesday that its printed paper and digital news site will close down no later than 11:59 p.m. Saturday.

The slogan was often chanted during anti-government demonstrations in 2019 by protesters demanding broader democratic freedoms.

While pro-democracy media outlets still exist online, it was the only print newspaper of its kind left in the city.

On Instagram, the paper thanked its readers.

"Even if the ending is not what we want, even if it's hard to let go, we need to continue living and keep the determination we have shared with Hong Kong people that has remained unchanged over 26 years", Apple Daily wrote.

On Wednesday, Yeung Ching-kee, one of the paper's top columnists, was arrested on the same charge.

Tong's legal team has yet to decide whether to bring their case to Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal. Apple's website cited concerns over employee safety and a manpower shortage.

Police, which typically do not disclose the names of those arrested, said they arrested a 55-year-old man on those charges.

"Within two weeks, authorities could use this national security law to dismantle a listed company". Yeung, who has written more than 800 pieces under the pseudonym "Li Ping" since 2016, published his most recent piece on Tuesday. He is now serving a prison sentence for his involvement in the 2019 protests.

The United States, European Union and Britain have criticized the moves against the Apple Daily.

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"It is clearer than ever that the (national security law) is being used to curtail freedom and punish dissent".

Amnesty International Asia-Pacific Regional Director Yamini Mishra said the police action against Apple Daily will "send a shiver down the spine of all media outlets operating in Hong Kong".

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called Apple Daily's closure a "chilling blow" to freedom of expression in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks, a government-controlled corporation, said Wednesday evening that it had started a process to recover the land leased for the headquarters of Apple Daily and Next Digital due to contract breaches.

The law, imposed previous year, criminalizes subversion, secession, terrorism and foreign collusion.

The outspoken paper, which has always been a target for the authorities with its liberal stance, was seen as a beacon of press freedom in Hong Kong as its existence showed that diversity was tolerated, if not embraced, under the city's semiautonomous status within China.

The newspaper has come under increasing pressure since owner and Beijing critic Lai, who is now in jail, was arrested under the national security law last August and has since had some of his assets frozen.

Several officers were knocked over and three were injured.

More than 60 people have now been charged under the law, including some of the city's best-known democracy activists, but their offences are related to political views or speech that authorities have declared illegal.

Tong's trial will set the tone for how Hong Kong handles national security offenses.

Since the law was enacted in June, more than 100 people have been arrested under its provisions. The result is that it has virtually silenced opposition voices in the city.

His trial is not being heard by a jury, a major departure from Hong Kong's common law traditions.

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