Hong Kong national security law: 4 former Apple Daily staff charged with conspiracy to collude with foreign forces
- The former employees are associate publisher Chan Pui-man, executive editor-in-chief Lam Man-chung and editorial writers Fung Wai-kong and Yeung Ching-kee
- Eight people who held senior roles at the tabloid-style newspaper have been arrested since last month, six of whom have now been charged
Police officers detained former associate publisher Chan Pui-man and ex-editorial writers Fung Wai-kong and Yeung Ching-kee when they answered bail following their arrest and release last month.
The fourth suspect was former executive editor-in-chief Lam Man-chung, who was taken into custody by officers from the force’s National Security Department after daybreak.
The four have been charged with conspiracy to collude with foreign forces to endanger national security and are due to appear at West Kowloon Court on Thursday. The latest charges bring the total number being prosecuted in the case to six.
The force’s national security unit raided the Apple Daily offices on June 17 and arrested five company executives.
Publisher Cheung Kim-hung and editor-in-chief Ryan Law Wai-kwong were charged for their roles in the publication of more than 30 articles allegedly calling for foreign sanctions against Hong Kong and mainland Chinese officials.
Speaking before the latest charges were laid, Secretary for Security Chris Tang Ping-keung said that while he would not comment on individual cases, police would pursue anyone who had committed an offence, regardless of background and profession.
“We have the obligation to arrest and prosecute them if they have violated the law,” he said. “I will not comment further as the case still needs further investigation.”
The Hong Kong Journalists Association said it was shocked and puzzled by the latest arrest, describing freedom of the press as the “cornerstone of an international city”.
“The association urges the government not to keep arresting journalists in the name of national security in a bid to create white terror in the field,” it said.
Lai is currently serving a 20-month jail sentence for his roles in three unauthorised demonstrations during the anti-government protests two years ago. He has been charged with one count of collusion with foreign forces and one count of conspiracy to collude.
The national security law, drafted by Beijing and taking effect in June last year, targets crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. Offenders face a maximum punishment of life in jail.