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US and its allies condemn repression of “Apple Daily” and “US News & Top Stories” in Hong Kong

WASHINGTON (Bloomberg) – The United States and its allies, including Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom, have openly criticized the attack on Apple Daily and its employees by Hong Kong officials.

In a joint statement issued on Saturday (July 10) by the 21-nation Media Freedom Alliance, governments condemned the closure of China’s National Security Act newspaper in Hong Kong and the arrest of its owner, Jimmy Lai, and his staff. .

They expressed “serious concerns” about the closure and warned that media censorship could be increased if legislation was passed.

“The use of the National Security Act to suppress the press is a dangerous and counterproductive move that undermines the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong’s High Autonomy and Hong Kong people,” the US State Department said in a statement.

It called on Hong Kong and Chinese authorities to maintain press freedom “in accordance with China’s international legal obligations.”

The pro-democracy Apple Daily published its latest issue on June 24. People in Hong Kong protested against government repression and rushed to buy it.

The newspaper was forced to stop publishing after its bank accounts were frozen and senior editors arrested for violating Hong Kong’s National Security Act.

The Apple Daily, which has exposed the hidden wealth of senior leaders of the Chinese Communist Party and the unethical practices of Hong Kong officials, has built a reputation for rigorous investigations over the past 26 years. He is best known for providing intricate reports and photos on entertainment, crime and celebrity gossip.

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Lay, 73, was jailed on charges of supporting pro-democracy struggles. His personal assets, including shares in Apple Daily’s parent company Next Digital, have been frozen.

The report was signed on Saturday by Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Slovakia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. And the United States.