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One week after police in Hong Kong raided the newsroom of the Apple Daily, the Chinese territory’s final pro-democracy publication, the newspaper published its final edition on Thursday.
In a statement, the board of directors of Apple Daily parent company Next Media said that both print and online editions would end because of “the current circumstances prevailing in Hong Kong.”
The newspaper, known for its outspoken criticisms of Beijing and the Chinese Communist Party, was founded by Jimmy Lai in 1995, two years before Britain gave Hong Kong back to China. At the time of its inception, the paper was mainly publishing tabloid-style gossip pieces but Lai intended for Apple Daily to “shine a light on snakes, insects, mice, and ants in the dark.”
Last week, police arrested the newspaper’s editor along with four other executives for allegedly violating China’s controversial 2019 national security law.
The Hong Kong security bureau also froze $2.3 million of the paper’s assets.
“Even if the ending is not what we want, even if it’s difficult 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 in an Instagram caption thanking its readers.
The paper said that it shut down out of fear of the safety for its employees, according to The Associated Press.
In preparation for their final printed edition, Apple Daily printed 1 million copies of the newspaper in comparison to the typical 80,000 copies.
Amid the paper’s closure, the first trial in Hong Kong under the national security law is taking place with many people living in Hong Kong and around the world watching closely.
Tong Ying-kit pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to charges including terrorism and inciting secession after he allegedly drove his motorcycle into police officers in 2019 while carrying a banner that read “Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of out times.”
Contrary to Hong Kong judicial norms, Tong’s trial will not include a jury in the High Court. If convicted, his sentence isn’t capped.