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Hong Kongers flock to buy last edition of Apple Daily

Hundreds of Hong Kongers queued up on Thursday morning to buy the last edition of Apple Daily.

The pro-democracy newspaper has been forced to close after 26 years after becoming the target of a national security crackdown.

In anticipation of the demand, Apple Daily printed 1 million copies, more than 10 times its usual print run.

Supporters lamented the most serious blow yet to Hong Kong's media freedoms.

"I think it's the end of an era so I want to come out and buy a copy. Also I don't understand why (Hong Kong) can't even tolerate a newspaper."

"Although sometimes I don't agree with what the paper wrote, a society should have a variety of voices. We can't eliminate those voices just because of certain reasons."

Hundreds of supporters gathered outside the officers of the newspaper on Wednesday night and waved smartphone lights.

The last front page of Apple Daily carried a photograph of them and a member of staff waving back,

with the headline "Hong Kongers bid a painful farewell in the rain".

Inside the newsroom there were cheers, and some tears, as the final edition went to press.

Apple Daily has faced an unrelenting squeeze since its owner and staunch Beijing critic Jimmy Lai was arrested under the national security law last August.

Police last week froze assets of companies linked to the newspaper, raided the paper's headquarters and arrested five executives.

Scenes of hundreds of police in the newsroom rooting through journalistic materials drew international condemnation.

Authorities have said dozens of Apple Daily pieces may have violated the national security law.

Since the raid, the newspaper says it has suffered mass resignations and entire departments have had to close.

The UK said the closure of the paper was a, quote, 'chilling demonstration' of Hong Kong's 'campaign to silence all opposition voices.'

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