HomeWorld News6 former Apple Daily employees plead guilty to collusion in Hong Kong

6 former Apple Daily employees plead guilty to collusion in Hong Kong

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Six former executives of a now-defunct pro-democracy Hong Kong newspaper pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a collusion charge under the National Security Law that has silenced and jailed most opposition voices in the southern Chinese territory. .

Apple Daily staff members were arrested last year during a crackdown on dissent after Beijing imposed the sweeping security law in response to widespread anti-government protests in 2019. They were charged with conspiracy to collude with foreign forces to endanger national security.

The law criminalizes acts of succession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces. His maximum penalty is life imprisonment. But all six were expected to receive lesser sentences because of their guilty pleas.

APPLE DAILY INCREASES PRESS RACE AFTER ATTACK BY HONG KONG POLICE

Editor Cheung Kim-hung, associate editor Chan Pui-man, editor-in-chief Ryan Law, executive editor-in-chief Lam Man-chung, and editorial writers Fung Wai-kong and Yeung Ching-kee all admitted that they had conspired with the founder of the newspaper, Jimmy Lai, to call for the imposition of sanctions or blockades, or engage in other hostile activities against Hong Kong or China.

Prosecutors alleged that three companies related to Apple Daily were also involved in the conspiracy from July 1, 2020, the day after the introduction of the National Security Law, to the day of the newspaper’s last print edition, July 24. June 2021.

They pointed to the English version of the post, claiming it was submitted by Lai in order to call on foreign forces to impose sanctions or be hostile against Hong Kong or China. They said that Lai was the mastermind behind the conspiracy and the six acted to implement the plans. After the security law was enacted, Apple Daily condemned the legislation as “evil law” and called for resistance, they added.

Hong Kong police officers escort Cheung Kim-hung, center, CEO and chief executive officer of Next Digital Ltd at the Apple Daily headquarters in Hong Kong. Six former Apple Daily executives pleaded guilty to one charge of collusion on November 22, 2022, under the National Security Law that has imprisoned most opposition voices on Chinese soil.
(AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)

Lai and the three companies were expected to plead not guilty to the charges and their trial is scheduled to begin on December 1. If convicted, Lai faces life in prison. If the companies are convicted, they could be fined and the proceeds of the crime forfeited.

After hearing their arguments and the prosecution’s case, a High Court judge convicted all six. His sentences would be handed down after Lai’s trial.

Local journalists and former Apple Daily employees were among the onlookers, with some greeting the defendants before and after the hearing.

APPLE DAILY: HONG KONG POLICE RAID PRO-DEMOCRACY PAPER OFFICES, MAKE ARRESTS

Police seized hard drives and laptops as evidence in a June 2021 raid on Apple Daily offices, shocking the city’s media. Arrests of the newspaper’s top executives, editors and journalists, as well as the freezing of $2.3 million worth of assets, led it to cease operations. It sold a million copies of its final edition.

Hong Kong fell more than 60 places to 148th place in the latest Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index published in May. The media watchdog cited the closure of Apple Daily and Stand News, an online news outlet that gained popularity during protests in 2019 but was forced to shut down during the ongoing crackdown.

The watchdog also said the city’s press freedom has experienced “an unprecedented setback” since the introduction of the security law that “serves as a pretext to muzzle independent voices” in the name of fighting security crimes. national.

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Separately, nine people were found guilty of rioting during a violent protest in October 2019 in another Hong Kong court on Tuesday. They were among thousands of residents who were arrested for their role in the widespread protests three years ago.

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