H.K. Court Denies Bail to Apple Daily’s Editor, Publisher

Ryan Law, editor-in-chief of the Apple Daily newspaper, is escorted to the Lai Chi Kok Reception Center following a court appearance in Hong Kong, China. (Photographer: Chan Long Hei/Bloomberg)

H.K. Court Denies Bail to Apple Daily’s Editor, Publisher

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The editor and publisher of the Apple Daily newspaper were arraigned Saturday on charges under the city’s sweeping national security law.

Editor-in-Chief Ryan Law, and Cheung Kim-hung, the newspaper’s publisher and chief executive officer of parent company Next Digital Ltd., were denied bail and their case was adjourned to Aug. 13, according to a ruling by Chief Magistrate Victor So.

H.K. Court Denies Bail to Apple Daily’s Editor, Publisher

Law, 47, and Cheung, 59, were detained on Thursday. A charge sheet stated that between July 1, 2020 and April 3, 2021, they conspired with Next Digital founder Jimmy Lai and others to request foreign forces to impose sanctions or a blockade, or engage in other hostile activities against Hong Kong or China.

About 500 police officers on Thursday descended on the headquarters of Apple Daily, the second time in 12 months. They searched the company’s offices, barred journalists from their desks and eventually carted away nearly 40 computers belonging to journalists, the paper said. Authorities also arrested Chief Operating Officer Royston Chow and deputy editors Chan Pui-man and Cheung Chi-wai.

H.K. Court Denies Bail to Apple Daily’s Editor, Publisher

The unprecedented move to arrest senior editors at a major newspaper -- and warn other journalists to watch what they write -- has rattled a city that has seen Beijing swiftly erode basic freedoms in the former British colony since historic street protests in 2019. A police official on Thursday said Apple Daily had published dozens of articles that gave foreign powers “ammunition” to sanction Hong Kong and China, adding the newspaper office was now a crime scene.

As part of conditions to be released on bail, Cheung’s legal team had proposed a HK$3 million ($386,480) bond, while Law’s suggested an amount of between HK$100,000 to HK$200,000. They were both willing to resign from all roles related to Next Digital, and would no longer be involved in the company’s operations. The judge lifted restrictions for the media to report on bail conditions, but allegations, prosecution reasoning and legal arguments were still prohibited.

H.K. Court Denies Bail to Apple Daily’s Editor, Publisher

Media tycoon Lai, 73, is a fierce critic of Beijing who is currently serving more than a year in prison for attending unauthorized protests. He has been the most high-profile target of the government’s push against democracy advocates in Hong Kong.

Last month, the Hong Kong government froze all of Lai’s shares of Next Digital and local bank accounts of three companies owned by him. He will be on trial again in July for alleged crimes under the national security law. He faces the possibility of life imprisonment.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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