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Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Newspaper May Stop Publication This Week

FILE - A supporter holds a copy of Apple Daily newspaper during a court hearing outside West Magistrates’ Courts, after police charge two executives of the pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper over the national security law, in Hong Kong, China, June 19, 2021. (Reuters)

The parent company of Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily will decide this week whether to shut down the publication.

The newspaper’s apparent imminent closure comes just days after authorities froze $2.3 million of its assets last week, shortly after more than 500 police officers raided Apple Daily’s offices and arrested its chief editor, Ryan Law, and four other executives with the newspaper and Next Digital.

Mark Simon, an advisor to jailed Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai, told news outlets that executives of Next Digital were planning to hold a board meeting Monday to discuss the situation.

Lai and Chief Executive Officer Cheung Kim-hung have been charged with colluding with a foreign country and have been denied bail. The newspaper’s offices were raided last August after Lai was arrested at his house on suspicion of foreign collusion.

Anyone believed to be carrying out terrorism, separatism, subversion of state power or collusion with foreign forces could face life in prison if convicted under the law.

Apple Daily and its 73-year-old owner have been the target of Hong Kong authorities since China imposed a strict national security law last June in response to the massive and sometimes violent anti-government protests in 2019.

Lai is currently serving a 14-month prison sentence for taking part in separate unauthorized assemblies in 2019. His assets in Next Digital were frozen by the government last month.