A supporter holds a copy of the Apple Daily newspaper ahead of a court appearance by Next Digital Ltd chief executive officer Cheung Kim-hung and Apple Daily editor-in-chief Ryan Law at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts in Hong Kong yesterday. Photo: Bloomberg
‘WARNING SHOT’: A magistrate said the newspaper’s editor-in-chief and CEO posed a threat to national security, extending their detention for two months
/ AFP, HONG KONG
Two executives from Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper yesterday appeared in court on charges of collusion and were denied bail after authorities deployed sweeping security legislation to target the newspaper, a scathing critic of Beijing.
Apple Daily editor-in-chief Ryan Law （羅偉光） and Next Digital Ltd （壹傳媒） chief executive officer and Apple Daily publisher Cheung Kim-hung （張劍虹） are accused of colluding with foreign forces to undermine China’s national security over a series of articles that police said called for international sanctions.
Chief Magistrate Victor So （蘇惠德） said there were insufficient grounds “for the court to believe that the defendants will not continue to commit acts endangering national security.”
The two would remain in custody until their next court appearance on Aug. 13 as prosecutors said police needed time to examine more than 40 computers and 16 servers seized from the newsroom.
The case is the first time political views and opinions published by a Hong Kong media outlet have triggered Hong Kong’s National Security Law, which was imposed last year by Beijing to stamp out dissent in the territory.
Apple Daily and its jailed owner Jimmy Lai （黎智英） have long been thorns in Beijing’s side, with unapologetic support for the city’s pro-democracy movement and caustic criticism of China’s authoritarian leaders.
More than 500 police officers raided the paper’s newsroom on Thursday. Five executives were arrested. Law and Cheung were charged on Friday, while the three others were released on bail pending further investigations.
“We will continue to publish our paper tomorrow,” Apple Daily deputy chief editor Chan Pui-man （陳沛敏） said outside court.
She was released late on Friday on bail.
Dozens of supporters were lining up to get seats in court yesterday morning, including many former and current employees of Apple Daily.
A staff member, who gave her surname as Chang, said she and many other Apple Daily employees treat “every day like it is our last” working for the paper.
“At first, authorities said the National Security Law would only target a tiny number of people, but what has happened showed us that is nonsense” she said.
Another staff reporter, who gave her first name as Theresa, said she felt Apple Daily’s legal troubles were a warning shot.
“I think what has happened to Apple Daily today can eventually happen to every other news outlet in the city,” she said.