Million copies printed of last issue as journalists at newspaper that was forced to close mourn ‘historical moment’


Large crowds queue in Hong Kong for final Apple Daily edition – video


Across Hong Kong on Thursday morning the queues stretched for hundreds of metres, wrapping around corner after corner. Starting before dawn, crowds in the city of 7.5 million people lined up for hours to buy the final print edition of the Apple Daily newspaper, forced to close by authoritieswhich had accused it of national security offences.

Normally selling 80,000 copies a day, they printed a million. It was in such hot demand that by mid morning Hongkongers were crowdsourcing an online spreadsheet of convenience stores that still had copies for sale.

“Hong Kongers bid a painful farewell in the rain: ‘We support Apple Daily’,” read the final front page headline. The half page photo showed the crowds of supporters who had gathered outside the building the night before, leaving messages of thanks on the front gate, and waving up to the staff gathered at the windows and balconies, shining their torch lights.

Its founder and owner has been in jail since December, its chief executive and editor-in-chief since last Thursday, and lead editorial writer for less than 24 hours. All were charged with foreign collusion under a national security law which international governments and rights groups say is being wielded to crush dissent.

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After police raided the newsroom last week and the security secretary froze the paper’s assets and accounts, Apple Daily’s parent company, Next Digital Media, had no choice. Unable to pay staff or operating costs, it announced the website, app and social media accounts would shut down on midnight Wednesday and the final newspaper would hit the stands on Thursday.