Six former executives and journalists of the now-shuttered newspaper Apple Daily appeared in court on Thursday on charges of collusion under Hong Kong’s national security law.
They will next return to court on October 12, the date given by Acting Chief Magistrate Peter Law, who belongs to a pool of judges designated to handle national security cases. The case, now with the Magistrates’ Courts, is expected to be moved to the High Court for trial.
Prosecutors said the group of former Apple Daily employees conspired to collude with foreign forces to endanger national security. The defendants are Apple Daily’s former publisher Cheung Kim-hung, editor-in-chief Ryan Law, executive editor-in-chief Lam Man-chung, associate publisher Chan Pui-man, and editorial writers Yeung Ching-kee and Fung Wai-kong.
The same collusion charge is also levelled against the companies Apple Daily Limited, Apple Daily Printing Limited and AD Internet Limited. No representative came forward on behalf of these companies during Thursday’s hearing.
Cheung and Ryan Law, who are among the first batch of former Apple Daily employees facing national security charges, have been remanded in custody for nearly three months, while the four others have spent around two months behind bars. None of them applied for bail on Thursday.
During the hearing, the six waved and gave thumbs-up gestures to a courtroom packed with family members and supporters – which included multiple former Apple Daily journalists. Loud chants of “add oil” and “hang in there” rang from the crowd as the defendants were led away.
According to the prosecution, the six conspired with the newspaper’s founder Jimmy Lai to invite foreign sanctions or other hostile measures on Hong Kong or China. Lai has also been charged and detained under the national security law, though he will face trial separately. The 26-year-old paper he established was forced to shut down in late June as Hong Kong authorities intensified enforcement action against the media outlet.
Bail denied again for barrister-activist Chow Hang-tung.
In a separate case concerning national security, the magistrate Law denied the bail application of activist Chow Hang-tung, a former leader of the group that organised Hong Kong’s annual June 4 candlelight vigil commemorating victims of the 1989 Beijing Tiananmen Square crackdown.
Chow, a barrister, is charged with inciting subversion and failing to comply with the authorities’ request to provide information on the group she led, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China.
Chow appeared in court in a white T-shirt with a small Mickey Mouse pattern. In an earlier Facebook post, Chow complained that detention officers prohibited her from wearing T-shirts that bore the alliance’s slogans, citing “security reasons”.
On Wednesday, national security police froze more of the alliance’s assets, in addition to assets worth HK$2.2 million (US$283,000) already frozen earlier this month. In their latest action, the police suspended the use of the alliance’s bank accounts and Mong Kok property, which previously housed the June 4 Museum, after alliance members voted to disband their group last Saturday.
By Holmes Chan