A sister publication of pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily said on Wednesday (23 June) that it will be shutting down after Hong Kong authorities froze the assets of its parent company Next Digital.
The announcement followed Apple Daily’s cessation of some of its services a day prior. The newspaper earlier said on Monday that its entire operations could end by this weekend.
Founded by media tycoon Jimmy Lai in 1990, Next Magazine ran its last print edition in 2018 before commencing online-only operations.
Wong Lai-sheung, head of Next Magazine, said in a letter on its website that the publication was on the brink of shutting down several years ago due to sustaining huge losses, but reached the pivotal point of gaining over 100,000 subscribers after going digital.
“I’ve run out of tears at this historic juncture. What I need to do in this turbulent environment is to suppress my emotions and pave the way for our retreat,” she said.
“Some colleagues still hold a glimmer of hope, but I just have to very frank with them by saying: ‘stop your imagination’. We’ve worked hard for Next Magazine and we once enjoyed press freedom. There should be no regrets,” Wong said.
Lai, who is now serving multiple jail sentences for attending several pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong a couple of years ago, was charged last August after hundreds of police officers conducted a search of Apple Daily’s newsroom.
Apple Daily’s chief editor Ryan Law and Next Digital chief executive Cheung Kim-hun were arrested under the national security law last week “for collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security”, said police.
The national security law is part of Beijing’s arsenal in what is widely perceived to be the stifling of dissenting voices in Hong Kong since the protests began in 2019.
Individuals convicted under the law face up to life in prison. The majority are denied bail after their arrest.
The law was also used to freeze Lai’s bank accounts and his majority shares in Next Digital.