New York [US], June 23 (ANI): The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has said it will honour Jimmy Lai, the imprisoned founder of Hong Kong's Next Digital media company and Apple Daily newspaper, with the 2021 Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award.
The award is presented annually by CPJ's board of directors to recognize extraordinary and sustained commitment to press freedom.
"Jimmy Lai is not just a champion of a free press, he is a press freedom warrior. He fights for the right of his Apple News organization to publish freely, even as China and its backers in Hong Kong use every tool to quash them," said Kathleen Carroll, chair of CPJ's board.
This comes as Hong Kong's pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily could stop publishing on Saturday if the city authorities continue to keep its assets frozen after arresting five executives under the draconian National Security Law.
The Hong Kong Free Press reported that the management of the newspaper's parent company will decide on Friday whether to continue publishing the tabloid or not.
A CJP release said that Lai has become a powerful symbol of the struggle to maintain press freedom in Hong Kong as China's Communist Party exerts ever greater control over the territory. In prison, denied bail, the outspoken critic of the Chinese government and advocate for democracy faces charges that could keep him in jail for the rest of his life.
Last week, police raided Apple Daily's headquarters and arrested five executives. Lai had launched Next magazine as part of his Next Media group, now known as Next Digital.
As a result of Lai's critical commentary, China began to force branches of his retail clothing businesses on the mainland to close. He launched Apple Daily in 1995, introducing tabloid-style journalism to Hong Kong and later Taiwan, and has openly supported the pro-democracy movement in the semi-autonomous city.
Lai will be honoured at CPJ's 2021 International Press Freedom Awards on November 18, 2021. (ANI)