Last Apple Daily newspaper edition sold out across Hong Kong

Hong Kong: The final edition of Hong Kong's last remaining pro-democracy paper sold out in hours Thursday, as readers scooped up all 1 million copies of the Apple Daily, whose closure was yet another sign of China's tightening grip on the semi-autonomous city.

Across the densely populated metropolis, people lined up early in the morning to buy the paper, which in recent years has become an increasingly outspoken critic of Chinese and Hong Kong authorities' efforts to limit the freedoms found here but not in mainland China. The paper was gone from newsstands by 8:30 am.

The newspaper said it was forced to cease operations after police froze 2.3 million of its assets, searched its office and arrested five top editors and executives last week, accusing them of foreign collusion to endanger national security.

This is our last day, and last edition, does this reflect the reality that Hong Kong has started to lose its press freedom and freedom of speech? an Apple Daily graphic designer, Dickson Ng, asked in comments to The Associated Press. Why does it have to end up like this?

The paper printed 1 million copies for its last edition up from the usual 80,000. On the front page was splashed an image of an employee in the office waving at supporters surrounding the building, with the headline Hong Kongers bid a painful farewell in the rain, We support Apple Daily.'

While pro-democracy media outlets still exist online, it was the only print newspaper of its kind left in

the city.

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