Hong Kong’s Apple Daily says it only has money weeks after asset freeze
HONG KONG, June 20 (Reuters) – Hong Kong pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily said on Sunday that freezing its assets in connection with a national security investigation had left the newspaper with cash for “just a few weeks “of normal operation and that he might have difficulty paying staff salaries.
The newspaper, whose editor and director-general were detained under the new security law and whose offices were raided by 500 police officers on Thursday, said the announcement was made at a meeting direction Friday.
Three companies linked to Apple Daily are also being sued for collusion with a foreign country and authorities have frozen 18 million Hong Kong dollars ($ 2.3 million) of their assets.
Apple Daily plans to ask the Government Security Bureau to unfreeze the assets on Monday and, failing that, it could seek to challenge the ruling in court, the newspaper reported.
“The freezing of the assets of the three companies affects not only salaries, but also the normal functioning of newspapers,” he said in an article. “It is understood that the company only has enough cash to continue its normal operations for several weeks.”
Apple Daily is also reviewing its ink and paper stocks, he said.
Police said dozens of Apple Daily articles were suspected of violating national security law in the first instance in which authorities cited media articles as potentially violating the laws at issue. Editor-in-chief Ryan Law and chief executive Cheung Kim-hung were charged with collusion with a foreign country and were deprived of bail on Saturday. Three other senior officials were also arrested Thursday and released on bail Friday. Read more
Apple Daily arrests and scale of raid have been criticized by Western countries, global rights groups, news organizations and the UN’s chief human rights spokesperson .
Officials in Hong Kong and China have said press freedom cannot be used as a “shield” for those who commit crimes and have called the critics “interference”.
Apple Daily and its listed publisher Next Digital (0282.HK) have come under increasing pressure since its owner mogul and ardent Beijing critic Jimmy Lai was arrested under law last year.
Lai, whose assets have also been frozen under the security law, is already in prison for participating in unauthorized rallies.
Reporting by Jessie Pang; written by Marius Zaharia; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan
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