Hong Kong: Bail of pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily rejected

Hong Kong: Bail of pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily rejected

Two executives of Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily, charged under a national security law, were denied bail on Saturday during a case that has drawn international condemnation and stoked fears over media freedoms within the financial hub.

Editor-in-chief Ryan Law 47 and chief military officer Cheung Kim-hung 59 were among five Apple Daily executives arrested on Thursday when 500 police also raided the outlet's newsroom, which authorities described as a "crime scene".

Police said on Thursday dozens of the newspaper's articles were suspected of violating the national security law. it had been the primary case during which authorities have cited media articles as potentially violating the contentious legislation.

Law and Cheung, who are charged with "collusion with a far off country or with external elements to endanger national security" appeared at the West Kowloon Magistrates' Courts on Saturday and were denied bail by Judge Victor So.

They will next appear in court on August 13.The pair are accused of colluding with Apple Daily owner and staunch Beijing critic Jimmy Lai between July 1 2020 and April 3 April 2021 to request a far off country, person or organisation "to impose sanctions or blockade or engage in other hostile activities against the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region or the People's Republic of China," consistent with a blotter .

The National Security Law came into force in Hong Kong just before midnight on June 30, 2020.

Judge So said Law and Cheung were denied bail because there was insufficient evidence to believe they might not endanger national security.

Under the safety law, the onus is on defendants to prove they're going to not pose a security threat if released on bail.

Three companies associated with Apple Daily that also are being prosecuted for collusion with a far off country appointed people to represent them in court. Authorities have frozen HK$18 million ($2.32 million) of the companies' assets.

The other three executives arrested on Thursday, 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, consistent with Apple Daily.

Earlier on Saturday, crowds had gathered outside the court before the hearing, some holding yellow umbrellas or wearing Apple Daily T-shirts saying, "No fear, fight on."

"Right now, you'll be charged with NSL (the national security law) due to a word or a speech that they didn't like. It’s an enormous regression,” Lo, 29, a reader of the favored , 26-year-old paper, said.

The law punishes what Beijing broadly refers to as secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison.

The arrests and scale of the Apple Daily raid are criticised by Western nations, global rights groups, press associations and therefore the chief U.N. spokesperson for human rights.

Apple Daily and its listed publisher Next Digital have come under increasing pressure since Lai was arrested last year under the legislation.

Lai, whose assets are frozen under the safety law, is already in jail for participating in unauthorised assemblies and awaiting trial in his national security case.

As investigations into Apple Daily and its senior executives build up , some employees and observers have expressed deepening concern over the newspaper's future.

Since the law was imposed by Beijing in June last year, quite 100 people are arrested, with most denied bail.


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