Two executives of Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily, charged under a national security law, have been denied bail in a case that has drawn international condemnation and stoked fears over media freedoms in the financial hub.
Key points:

  • Three other Apple Daily executives were released on bail
  • Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai is serving a 20-month sentence for his role in ‘unauthorised assemblies’ during the Hong Kong protests
  • The central government in Beijing defended the crackdown as necessary to ‘restore order’

Editor-in-chief Ryan Law, 47, and chief executive Cheung Kim-hung, 59, appeared in West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts today on charges of “collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security.”
Judge Victor So denied them bail.
Judge So said there was not sufficient grounds to believe they would not violate the security law again and ordered them held at the Lai Chi Kok detention centre.
He set the next hearing for August 13.
Supporters keep spirit of protest alive
At dawn on Saturday, crowds had gathered outside West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts, some holding yellow umbrellas or banners chanting, “Release all political prisoners.”
Supporters queue up for the hearing for Apple Daily executives outside West Magistrates Courts in Hong Kong.(Reuters: Lam Yik
Mr Law and Mr Kim-hung were among five Apple Daily executives arrested on Thursday when 500 police raided the outlet’s newsroom, which authorities described as a “crime scene.”
Both are charged with collusion with foreign powers, raising alarm over media freedoms in the financial hub as authorities intensify a crackdown under the contentious legislation.
The other three, chief operating officer Chow Tat-kuen, deputy chief editor Chan Puiman and chief executive editor Cheung Chi-wai, were released on bail late on Friday, according to Apple Daily.
Police said dozens of the newspaper’s articles were suspected of violating the national security law the first time media articles have been cited as potentially falling foul of the legislation.
The Apple Daily has long been one of the most outspoken defenders of civil liberties in Hong Kong.
It supported massive protests demanding more democracy in 2019 and has criticised the subsequent crackdown, including the enactment of a national security law last year.
The central government in Beijing has defended the legislation and the crackdown on opposition voices as necessary to restore order and stability.
The 2019 protests that challenged Beijing’s rule often started as peaceful marches during the day but turned into violent clashes between hard-core demonstrators and police at night.
A target on Apple Daily’s back
Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai is currently serving a 20-month prison sentence after being convicted of playing a role in unauthorised assemblies rallies and marches that had not received police approval during the 2019 protests.
He has also been charged under the national security law.
The latest arrests mark the first time journalists have been targeted under the new law, except for a freelancer who was arrested for pro-democracy activities.
Hundreds of police and security agents who raided Apple Daily’s office on Thursday also seized 44 hard drives, and authorities froze $3 million of its assets.
Police officers from the national security department escorting Apple Daily chief executive Cheung Kim-hung from his offices on June 17.
Police said the arrests were based on more than 30 articles that had appeared in the Apple Daily since the security law took effect and that had called for international sanctions against China and Hong Kong.
The security law specifically criminalises colluding with a foreign country, institution, organisation or individual to impose sanctions or a blockade against Hong Kong or China.
Critics say Beijing is walking back on its promise at the 1997 handover of Hong Kong from Britain that the city could retain its freedoms not seen elsewhere in China for 50 years.
The US has imposed sanctions against Chinese and Hong Kong officials over the crackdown and called for the immediate release of the Apple Daily editors and executives.
Asked how journalists should avoid getting in trouble, Hong Kong Security Secretary John Lee told a news conference this week:
“The answer is simple: Do your journalistic work as freely as you like in accordance with the law provided you do not conspire or have any intention to break the Hong Kong law and certainly not the Hong Kong National Security Law.”

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