Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily could be forced to shut within days as the Hong Kong government has frozen its assets under a sweeping national security law, Reuters news agency reported Monday.
The report quoted Mark Simon, an adviser to Jimmy Lai, founder of a media company that publishes the outspoken newspaper, as saying that the assets freeze has affected the daily's cash flow and closure could come in "a matter of days."
Authorities last week indicted two executives as well as three companies handling printing and internet content for the paper for allegedly colluding with foreign forces. Banks were reportedly ordered not to handle the companies' assets.
"Vendors tried to put money into our accounts and were rejected," Simon told Reuters, adding that the paper will hold a board meeting Monday to discuss its future move.
The paper has said parent company Next Digital Ltd. will request that the Hong Kong government ease its assets freeze order to allow salary payment to its staff.
Lai, who is already imprisoned for a separate crime, is also charged with colluding with foreign forces, a crime punishable by life imprisonment under the national security law.
Next Digital CEO Cheung Kim-hung and editor-in-chief Ryan Law, and the three companies were indicted Saturday for conspiring with Lai and others in requesting a foreign country to impose sanctions on Hong Kong and China.
Cheung and Law were denied bail and remanded into custody. The next hearing is set for Aug. 13.