Hong Kong's Apple Daily newspaper to close this week

Hong Kong Apple Daily close watson pkg intl hnk vpx_00022322

Two senior Apple Daily executives were charged this month with colluding with foreign forces to endanger national security.

The decision came hours after police arrested a columnist for the paper and days after authorities froze $2.3 million in company assets and arrested five editors and executives under the territory's draconian national security law, which was imposed past year by mainland China's ruling Communist Party.

The closure of Apple Daily is "a big blow to the freedom of the press and freedom of speech in Hong Kong", saidRonson Chan, chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists Assn.

The newspaper is accused of conspiring with foreign countries to slap sanctions on China and Hong Kong over the territory's diminished autonomy - charges largely viewed as a pretext by authorities to muzzle dissent.

The 73-year-old Lai has been jailed since December and is facing multiple charges, including participating in an illegal demonstration and violating the national security law. The other three were released on bail by police.

Apple Daily has come under increasing pressure since Lai was arrested past year under the security legislation, which was introduced after months of at times violent pro-democracy protests.

Hong Kong's Judiciary describes trial by jury as one of the most important features of the city's legal system, a common law tradition created to offer defendants additional protection against the possibility of authorities overreaching their power.

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A man accused of driving a motorcycle into police officers while carrying a Hong Kong protest flag has become the first person to stand trial under the national security law implemented previous year as China's central government tightened control over the city.

At a regular press conference, Lam expressed her support for the enforcement authorities of Hong Kong in defending national security, saying the HKSAR government will act strictly in accordance with the law so as to avoid the national security law to exist in name only.

An adviser for Jimmy Lai, the Hong Kong billionaire and founder of Next Digital, called the raid a "blatant attack".

A Hong Kong-based spokesperson for Citibank said at the time the bank did not comment on individual client accounts.

Mr Simon told Reuters it had now become impossible to conduct banking operations in the global financial hub. Secretary for Security will handle in accordance with the law any application related to the frozen property.

'After all this is said and done, the business community is going to look up and recognise that a man's company was gutted and stolen by a communist regime in Hong Kong, ' he said.

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