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Hong Kong mogul Jimmy Lai’s digital next to cease operations from July 1 – memorial By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Staff turn on their phone flashlights at the offices of Apple Daily and its publisher Next Digital, following the announcement that it will be printing its latest edition, in Hong Kong, China on June 23, 2021. REUTERS / Lam Yik

By Sharon Abratique

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong media group Next Digital, owned by jailed mogul Jimmy Lai, will cease operations from July 1 after the company’s assets were frozen as part of a national security investigation. , according to an internal memo seen by Reuters.

Next digital did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The company is the publisher of Apple (NASDAQ 🙂 Daily, a popular pro-democracy newspaper that closed last week after its newsroom was raided by 500 police officers investigating whether articles violated security law. .

Beijing imposed the legislation in Hong Kong on June 30, 2020. It punishes acts considered by China as subversive, secessionist, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces with up to life imprisonment.

Critics say it has been used to crush dissent, while supporters said it has restored order in Hong Kong after months of pro-democracy protests.

The Next Digital memo, shared separately by two employees, said assets linked to the company remained frozen under the national security investigation.

Dated June 30, the memorandum was addressed to all Hong Kong board staff.

“The group will stop operating,” he said. “Although the road ahead is difficult, keep moving forward!”

The Hong Kong Security Office, which ordered the assets freeze, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Lai, a staunch critic of Beijing, was arrested last year on suspicion of collusion with foreign forces. He is currently serving a prison sentence for participating in illegal assemblies during the massive pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong in 2019.

Next Digital, which had a market capitalization of HK $ 765 million ($ 98.52 million), said in a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Tuesday that it had accepted a proposal to sell Amazing Sino, which operates the edition. online from Apple from Taiwan. Daily.

It had previously stopped printing its edition of Taiwan on the Democratic Island, which China considers a separatist province, blaming declining advertising revenue and difficult business conditions in Hong Kong linked to politics.

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