Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper is running low on funds and can only continue operating as normal for a few more weeks, after authorities used a sweeping national security law to freeze company assets and arrest top editors and executives.
To continue print operations and pay staff, the tabloid is planning on seeking relief through the courts and is also looking to use its Taiwan operation to manage digital donations through GoFundMe.com and PayPal, a source told Bloomberg news agency.
China has taken another step toward extinguishing any form of dissent in Hong Kong, hailing police in the city for arresting top editors of the pro-democracy Apple Daily and warning journalists not to write articles that challenge Beijing.
Executives are now examining the practicalities of keeping the newspaper running, including checking supplies of ink and paper in its warehouse. The source added that it was unclear how the newspaper can pay staff and even whether regular suppliers and vendors will continue doing business with it.
The HK$18 million (£1.6 million) in Apple Daily assets frozen by police are only a small part of parent company Next Digital Ltd.’s HK$521.4 million in cash as of end-March, according to an exchange filing.
But, the source said, it is uncertain if the newspaper can access that cash given the various court orders and warnings to financial institutions to avoid handling accounts linked to alleged national security violations.
On Sunday, the newspaper reported on its stressed financial situation, saying its remaining resources can only keep the company running for a few weeks. It said the board of Next Digital plans to write to the city’s Security Bureau on Monday to request the release of some frozen assets so it can pay the wages of its employees by the end of the month.
If Apple Daily’s print newspaper operation is shut down, the media outlet could continue publishing digitally from Taiwan while potentially paying journalist salaries via crowdfunding.
Police have charged companies connected to Apple Daily, including Apple Daily Printing Ltd., with the same national security crimes as the individuals arrested this week.
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