Hong Kong's Next Digital to cease operating

First to go was Hong Kong’s Apple Daily.

Now the paper's publisher, media group Next Digital, will cease operating from July 1.

According to an internal memo, the company’s assets were frozen as part of a Chinese national security investigation.

Owned by jailed tycoon Jimmy Lai, Next Digital did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Lai is being held for taking part in illegal assemblies as part of 2019's pro-democracy protests.

Apple Daily, a popular pro-democracy newspaper was closed last week after its newsroom was raided by 500 police officers investigating whether some articles breached new security laws.

Local journalists fear it is just the beginning of a wider crackdown on press freedom.

Lam Yin Pong is an assignment editor at Stand News.

"As a journalist working in Hong Kong, I doubt if we can still say there's any press freedom. Because what happened at Apple Daily is a very alarming case, that the government can indirectly take down any media outlets that they don't like by simply accusing them of breaking the national security law. Not the organization itself, but some of the staff and top management of it. By arresting them they can freeze your account, stop the bank from dealing with any monies that go through your account."

Beijing imposed the security legislation on Hong Kong last year.

It punishes acts deemed by China to be subversive, secessionist, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces, with up to life in prison.

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

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