HONG KONG (AP) – The Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Monday shut down trading in shares of Next Digital, with authorities freezing assets belonging to its founder, My’s La, days later.
Next Digital said in a statement that it was asking for a halt after authorities announced that it had frozen Lai’s assets on Friday. Next Digital publishes the pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily, and the company was founded by its controlling shareholder, Lai.
The freeze comes as Lynx’s pro-democracy activists appeared in court on Monday on charges of inciting them to attend an unauthorized meeting in October 2019.
Lai is currently serving a 14-month prison sentence for his role in two separate unsanctioned rallies in 2019, at a time of widespread anti-government protests as Hong Kong residents protested a proposed extradition bill that would allow Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China. to stand forward The bill was withdrawn, although protests developed, including broader demands for democracy in the city.
Several months of anti-government protests forced Beijing to tighten its grip on Hong Kong, and last year it imposed a national security law on the city, widely seen as a crackdown on dissent. The law criminalizes secession, sabotage, terrorism, foreign cooperation, and according to the law, the police have arrested more than a hundred people so far.
Lai is being investigated by the National Security Directorate for allegedly collaborating with foreign powers and endangering national security.
His assets were frozen under national security law, which states that if there are reasonable grounds for believing that the property is related to a national security crime, then the “persons concerned” organizations should not directly or indirectly deal with certain property that is reasonably suspected. “Related to crimes endangering national security,” the government said in a statement on Friday.
In recent months, Hong Kong police have arrested many of the city’s pro-democracy activists, including prominent activists such as osh oshua Wong and Agnes Chou, behind bars. Most of the arrested pro-democracy activists are still in police custody.
Last week, the Taiwanese newspaper “Apple Daily” reported that it stopped publishing. The paper said it was losing money, and Next Digital could no longer support it, as “pro-Chinese forces” blocked ads for other editions of its leading Apple Daily newspaper in Hong Kong.