Announcement comes after police arrested another employee on allegations of violating Hong Kong’s national security law.
Hong Kong’s pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily will stop operating no later than Saturday, according to its publisher, after national security police arrested another employee of the besieged newspaper.
The end of the popular 26-year-old tabloid, which mixes pro-democracy discourse with racy celebrity gossip and investigations of those in power, has escalated alarm over media freedom and other rights in the Chinese-ruled city.
In a statement on its website on Wednesday, Next Digital said the decision to close the newspaper, which employs about 600 journalists, was taken “due to the current circumstances prevailing in Hong Kong”.
Al Jazeera’s Divya Gopalan, reporting from Hong Kong, said the paper’s last edition will be published on Thursday.
“The staff union has confirmed to us that the paper is likely to stop its printing presses after tonight, which means that tomorrow will likely be the last print edition of the paper,” she said.
Gopalan identified the latest Apple Daily employee who was arrested as Li Ping and said he was detained on suspicion of conspiring to collude with foreign forces.
“Li was a prolific writer, well known for his outspoken views on China,” she said.
“His detention is seen as an extension of the raid on Apple Daily headquarters by 500 police officers on Thursday, when they arrested five executives and editors, and for the first time in a media organization, confiscated reporters notebooks, computers and other documents.”
Following Thursday’s raid, authorities also froze 18 million Hong Kong dollars’ worth ($2.3 million) of the tabloid’s assets. They said dozens of Apple Daily pieces may have violated the security law, marking the first instance of authorities taking aim at media articles under the legislation.
“The police say the investigation is ongoing and it has sent chills across the media community here,” said Gopalan.
Apple Daily has come under increasing pressure since its tycoon owner and staunch Beijing critic, Jimmy Lai, was arrested last year under the contentious legislation.
Lai, whose assets have also been frozen under the security law, is already serving a prison sentence for taking part in unauthorised assemblies.
Al Jazeera and news agencies