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21 countries issued a joint statement condemning the Hong Kong government’s shutting down of the pro-democracy Apple Daily Newspaper.
The US and a number of allied countries, including the UK, Japan, and Germany, have condemned the crackdown by the Hong Kong government about the Apple Daily newspaper.
The 21-country “Media Freedom Coalition” issued a joint statement released on Saturday titled the Media Freedom Coalition Statement on Hong Kong’s Apple Daily, they stated their condemnation of the use of a China-imposed National Security Law in Hong Kong to shut down the paper and arrest many staff members of the Apple News Daily.
The undersigned members of the Media Freedom Coalition express their strong concerns about the forced closure of the Apple Daily newspaper, and the arrest of its staff by the Hong Kong authorities. The use of the National Security Law to suppress journalism is a serious and negative step that undermines Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and the rights and freedoms of people in Hong Kong, as provided for in the Hong Kong Basic Law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration.
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 use of the National Security Law to suppress journalism is a serious and negative step which undermines Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and the rights and freedoms of people in Hong Kong,” according to the statement released by the U.S. State Department.
Apple Daily News had built a reputation of over 25 years for its hard-hitting investigations regarding Chinese Communist Party leaders and exposing unethical practices of officials in Hong Kong. It was known widely for racy reporting and photos on the entertainment industry, celebrity information, and other gossips.
The statement continued, “We are highly concerned by the possible introduction of new legislation that is intended or could risk being used to eliminate scrutiny and criticism by the media of the government’s policies and actions.
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.”
The owner of Apple Daily, Jimmy Lai, along with several staff members, was arrested and jailed based on their support for maintaining democracy. The police also froze his assets and earnings made from the paper.
The allied countries publicly condemned the arrest and capture of everyone involved in Apple News.
The joint statement was signed by the Governments of Australia, Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Slovakia, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States of America.