Newsstand workers sort copies of the latest Apple Daily newspaper before selling them to customers in Hong Kong early June 18, 2021.
ANTHONY WALLACE | AFP | Getty Images
HONG KONG (AP) – A Hong Kong court ordered the editor-in-chief of pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily and its parent company boss to be held without bail in the first hearing since their arrest two days ago under the city’s national security law on Saturday.
Ryan Law, the editor-in-chief, and Cheung Kim-hung, the CEO of Next Digital, have been charged with colluding with a foreign country to endanger national security in what is widely known as an attack on the freedom of the press in semi-autonomous Chinese territory is seen .
Chief Justice Victor So said there was insufficient reason to believe that they would not break the security law again and ordered them to be held at Lai Chi Kok Detention Center. He scheduled the next hearing for August 13th.
Law and Cheung arrived at the courthouse in an unmarked white van with the windows covered. A handful of activists held up a banner and copies of the Apple Daily outside before the hearing began.
Three others were also arrested Thursday – two senior Apple Daily editors and one other senior executive – have not yet been charged and were released on bail late Friday pending further investigations.
The Apple Daily has long been one of Hong Kong’s staunch defenders of civil liberties. She supported massive protests in 2019 calling for more democracy and criticized the crackdown that followed, including the passage of a national security law last year.
The central government in Beijing defended the legislation and crackdown on opposition votes as necessary to restore order and stability. The 2019 protests, which challenged Beijing’s rule, often began as peaceful marches during the day but turned into violent clashes between tough protesters and police at night.
Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai is currently serving a 20-month prison sentence after being convicted during the 2019 protests of a role in unauthorized gatherings – rallies and marches that had not received police approval. He was also charged under national security law.
The recent arrests are the first time journalists have been targeted under the new law, with the exception of a freelancer arrested for pro-democracy activities. Hundreds of police and security officers who raided Apple Daily office Thursday also confiscated 44 hard drives and authorities have frozen $ 2.3 million of their assets.
Apple Daily Editor-in-Chief Ryan Law in the newspaper’s newsroom in Hong Kong on May 13, 2021.
Isaac Lawrence | AFP | Getty Images
Police said the arrests were based on more than 30 articles published in the Apple Daily since the Security Act came into effect calling for international sanctions against China and Hong Kong.
The Security Act specifically criminalizes colluding with a foreign country, institution, organization or individual to impose sanctions or blockades on Hong Kong or China. Critics say Beijing kept its promise when Hong Kong was surrendered from Britain in 1997 that the city could retain freedoms that it hadn’t seen anywhere in China for 50 years.
The US has imposed sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials for the raid, and demanded the immediate release of Apple Daily editors and executives.
When asked how journalists should avoid trouble, Hong Kong Security Secretary John Lee said at a press conference this week, “The answer is simple: do your journalistic work as freely as you want, in accordance with the law, provided you don’t have one Conspiracies Intending to break Hong Kong law, and certainly not the Hong Kong National Security Law. “