independent– Hong Kong’s pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily has reported its board of directors will meet on Friday to decide if it will cease operations.
The newspaper also says its board of directors has asked authorities to unfreeze some assets so it can pay salaries and avoid labour violations.
Police last week arrested five top editors and executives of Apple Daily under the city’s tough new national security law on suspicion of foreign collusion, searched its offices and froze $2.3 million worth of assets of three companies linked to the newspaper.
The move came as Hong Kong authorities crack down on dissenting voices, as Beijing tightens control over the territory in what critics say is an erosion of freedoms it promised the city for 50 years when the former British colony was handed over to China in 1997.
Apple Daily has been outspoken in defending Hong Kong’s freedoms and in recent years has often criticised the Chinese and Hong Kong governments for limiting the city’s democratic freedoms.
The paper said in an article on its website yesterday that if its board decides to cease operations of the newspaper, its website could stop publishing as soon as Saturday morning, and Saturday’s print edition would be its last.
An internal memo sent to some employees at Apple Daily also stated those who wish to resign immediately could do so.
Apple Daily said in an article on Sunday that it may challenge the decision to freeze its assets in court if the city’s Security Bureau denies its request.
“We handle such crimes according to the law, targeting at illegal acts, and invoke the power to freeze offence-related properties based on need and the law,” the bureau said in an English-language statment.