The United States and its allies, including Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom, have criticized the Hong Kong authorities’ outright crackdown on Apple Daily and its employees.
In a joint statement issued by the 21-nation Alliance for Media Freedom on Saturday, governments condemned the use of China’s security law in Hong Kong to shut down the newspaper and arrest its owner Jimmy Lai and his staff. They expressed “severe concerns” about the shutdown, and warned of the potential for increased media censorship if other laws were passed.
“Using the National Security Act to suppress the press is a dangerous and negative step that undermines Hong Kong’s high levels of autonomy and the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
She called on the Hong Kong and Chinese authorities to uphold press freedom “in accordance with China’s international legal obligations.”
The pro-democracy Apple Daily published its latest issue on June 24 as Hong Kong residents scrambled to buy it in protest of the government’s actions. The newspaper said it was forced to stop publishing after its bank accounts were frozen and senior editors arrested for violating Hong Kong’s national security law.
The Apple Daily has earned a reputation for rigorous investigations in its 26 years that exposed the hidden fortunes of high-ranking Chinese Communist Party leaders and the unethical practices of Hong Kong officials. She is best known for providing high-speed reporting and photos of entertainment, crime, and celebrity gossip.
Lay, 73, was imprisoned for supporting pro-democracy protests. His personal assets, including shares of Next Digital Ltd., have been frozen.
The declaration was signed on Saturday by Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Slovakia and Switzerland. Switzerland United Kingdom. and the United States
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