A Hong Kong media organization that was a reference point of free discourse in the nation, routinely distributing gruff analysis of the Chinese government, reported on Sunday that it would close down.
As Reuters announced, the organization’s board of directors has surrendered to work with the organization’s liquidation. Next Digital is owned by imprisoned tycoon Jimmy Lai.
Next Digital was the owner of the pro-democracy Apple Daily news site before it shut down in June, following the arrest of five of its editors and executives under a new law passed last year.
As part of a national security investigation, Next Digital’s office was raided, its assets were frozen and its shares have been suspended from trading since June 17, Reuters announced.
Next Digital said that it trusted that the resignation of its board individuals would permit the Hong Kong government to approve payments to creditors and former staff.
“We observe that the events affecting the company and its people following the invocation of the National Security Law occurred despite there having been no trials and no convictions,” Next Digital said. “Under this new law, a company can be forced into liquidation without the involvement of the courts.”
“As Apple Daily often observed, Hong Kong people have a collective memory of what life was like elsewhere when freedom of speech was denied: No other rights are safe,” it added.
After Apple Daily was shut in July, the U.S. joined 20 different nations in denouncing Beijing’s constrained conclusion of the paper.
“The action against Apple Daily comes against a backdrop of increased media censorship in Hong Kong, including pressure on the independence of the public broadcaster and recent legal action by the Hong Kong authorities against journalists,” the governments wrote.
“Freedom of the press has been central to Hong Kong’s success and international reputation over many years. Hong Kong and mainland Chinese authorities should fully respect and uphold this important right, in line with China’s international legal obligations,” they said.