Update: HK pro-democracy paper could ‘shut within days’, says adviser

A supporter of two executives from Hong Kong's pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper, chief editor Ryan Law and CEO Cheung Kim-hung, holds up a copy of the newspaper during a protest outside court in Hong Kong on June 19, 2021.

Hong Kong pro-democracy paper Apple Daily could be forced to shut down in a “matter of days”, said an adviser of the paper’s jailed founder Jimmy Lai.

Authorities last week froze HK$18m ($2.3m; £1.64m) of assets owned by three companies linked to Apple Daily.

Mark Simon told the BBC that the paper could “do nothing while none of its bank accounts are functioning”.

Apple Daily, a well-read tabloid, is frequently critical of Hong Kong and mainland Chinese leadership.

“If you don’t have money you can’t order services. Most importantly, you can’t promise to pay people when you don’t have access to the cash to cover those expenses. That’s illegal in Hong Kong,” said Mr Simon.

“The paper is still on the news stands today but it is only a matter of days before it won’t be there unless its bank accounts are unfrozen.”

The paper’s publisher, Next Digital, is holding a board meeting on Monday to discuss the paper’s future.

Apple Daily had on Sunday said it only had enough cash to continue normal operations for “several weeks”.

Last Thursday, some 500 police officers raided the offices of Apple Daily in Hong Kong, saying its reports had breached the national security law.

Police also arrested the editor-in-chief and four other executives at their homes and froze HK$18m ($2.3m; £1.64m) of assets owned by three companies linked to Apple Daily – Apple Daily Limited, Apple Daily Printing Limited and AD internet Limited.

Photos published online by Apple Daily showed police going through reporters’ computers.

In a statement, police said their warrant “covered the power of searching and seizure of journalistic materials”.

In a press briefing later that day, police said that Apple Daily had published more than 30 articles calling on countries to impose sanctions on Hong Kong and mainland China since 2019.

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