A trio of senior executives from the parent company of Hong Kong’s now-defunct pro-democracy tabloid, Apple Daily, have resigned their positions as the European Parliament passed a landslide motion condemning the “forced closure” of the newspaper.

Chief Executive Officer, Cheung Kim-hung, Chief Operation Officer, Royston Chow, and Chief Financial Officer, Dennis Hung, have all resigned from the media group, Next Digital, it was announced on Thursday.

Next Digital building
Apple Daily’s office in Tseung Kwan O. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP

Cheung, who has been remanded in custody under the national security law, informed the group of his decision via his solicitors, while Chow, who was also arrested under the Beijing-imposed legislation, had resigned for “health reasons.”

The Hong Kong Stock Exchange has also asked the group to assess if the company “still maintains a sufficient level of operations and assets to warrant its continued listing status” after the assets of three companies under the group were frozen, and the subsequent closure of Apple Daily.

Trading in the group’s shares has been suspended since June 17, following the arrest of five senior executives of the group and Apple Daily under the national security law, and the tabloid’s headquarters in Tseung Kwan O was raided as part of a police operation involving 500 officers.

The final edition of the newspaper was published last month after two editorial writers were also arrested under the sweeping legislation.

European condemnation

The moves came as the European Parliament passed a resolution on Thursday to “condemn in the in the strongest terms the recent forced closure of the Apple Daily newspaper in Hong Kong, the continued freezing of its assets and the arrests of its journalists.”

European Parliament
European Parliament. Photo: European Parliament, via Flickr.

The motion was passed by a landslide majority, with 578 votes in favour, 29 against and 73 abstentions.

“The resolution also calls on the Hong Kong authorities to stop harassing and intimidating journalists, release arbitrarily detained prisoners, and denounces any attempts to muzzle pro-democracy activists and their activities,” a statement from the European Parliament read.

Members of the parliament also urged member states of the European Union to impose sanctions on those “responsible for serious violations of human rights and international law in Hong Kong.”

In response, the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China in Hong Kong said that the parliament’s resolution “smeared the independent performance of duties by HKSAR law enforcement and judicial authorities and slandered the Chinese Central Government’s policy towards Hong Kong…”

In a statement published on Friday, the commissioner’s office said that the European Parliament “distorted facts with ulterior motives, trampled on the rule of law and judicial independence of the HKSAR, and tried to whitewash, under the pretext of press freedom, a certain media outlet and its executives who are suspected of engaging in criminal acts.

“All this has laid bare the deep-rooted ideological bias of these politicians and their hypocrisy and double standards,” the statement read.

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.