Washington DC [US], July 11 (ANI): Over 20 nations have expressed their strong concerns about the forced closure of Hong Kong's Apple Daily newspaper, and the arrest of its staff by the city authorities.
The statement was issued by 21 "Media Freedom Coalition" nations, including the governments of Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Iceland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Apple Daily, which published its final edition last month, said it had been forced to cease publication after its bank accounts were frozen and top editors arrested for violating Hong Kong's national security law.
The media coalition condemned the use of the National Security Law, brought in last year, to "suppress journalism is a serious and negative step" that undermines the city's autonomy and freedoms of people in Hong Kong, as provided for in the Hong Kong Basic Law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration.
"The action against Apple Daily comes against a backdrop of increased media censorship in Hong Kong, including pressure on the independence of the public broadcaster and recent legal action by the Hong Kong authorities against journalists," the statement said.
"We are highly concerned by the possible introduction of new legislation that is intended or could risk being used to eliminate scrutiny and criticism by the media of the government's policies and actions," it added.
The media coalition further said that freedom of the press has been central to Hong Kong's success and international reputation over many years. "Hong Kong and mainland Chinese authorities should fully respect and uphold this important right, in line with China's international legal obligations."
The Office of the Commissioner of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong opposed the Media Freedom Coalition's statement. (ANI)