The pro-democratic Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily posted its final edition after a turbulent few months of legal trouble for the owner and several staff members.
Jimmy Lai, founder of Apple News Daily, has been an open opponent of the Chinese Communist party for decades. Lai was smuggled into Hong Kong from mainland China and worked himself to a net worth of over a billion dollars. By the age of twenty-five, Lai was already one of the wealthiest merchants in Hong Kong. However, he was inspired to start Apple News Daily in the late 80s when young, pro-democracy activist were arrested in Beijing.
The Chinese have been tightening their power of Hong Kong under the new National Security Law. According to the BBC:
“The law essentially reduced Hong Kong’s judicial autonomy and made it easier to punish demonstrators and activists. It criminalises secession, subversion and collusion with foreign forces with the maximum sentence life in prison.”
Lai was initially arrested last year during a raid of the Apple Daily headquarters by Hong Kong reporters. After this particular arrest, Next Digital Limited, Lai’s company, saw an increase in stock value by 331%.
Hong Kong Newspaper Apple Daily Strikes Back
A large gathering of activists protesting outside of the police building pressured for the release of Lai. Days after of outside of the police quarters in Mongkok where Lai was under custody, Lai was released on bail. The next day Apple Daily broke a record of papers printed covering the arrest of Lai.
However, this did not stop another onslaught of troubles with the authorities. In December, Jimmy reported to the police station per requirement for his bail. However, he was again arrested by police for fraud. The reason was a bit silly, that he and another executive violated the terms of his Next Digital office space lease agreement. Lee was then the first high profile figure to be arrested under terms of the new National Security Law. Authorities accused Lai of working with foreign allies to threaten national security.
Apple Daily Lives Forever On The Blockchain
Jimmy has spent most of his time in the last six months in prison. And last month, all of his assets were frozen. He now has nineteen months left of prison time. However, it’s not just Lai who is paying a penalty. Just this week more editors and other staff members have been charged with a host of reported crimes by authorities. Given the financial problems with Lai, and the series of arrests of other staff members, Apple Daily has been forced to close.
However, a young activist in Hong Kong named Ho has used a decentralized file storage program ARWeave to permanently publish thousands of Apple Daily articles on the blockchain. This means that they will stay alive most likely forever and will be nearly impossible to be censored by the Chinese government. It’s often we see in the news stories about how blockchain promotes financial freedom. This is an interesting circumstance where the blockchain is being used to protect civil liberties.
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