Hong Kong: One year after Apple Daily shutdown, seven still detained

Since the forced shutdown one year ago of Apple Daily, Hong Kong’s largest Chinese language opposition newspaper, seven of its staff members, including its founder Jimmy Lai, are still being detained and risk a life sentence for alleged crimes against the state.

On 24th June 2021, Apple Daily, Hong Kong’s largest Chinese language opposition newspaper, was forced to shut down after the police raided its premises and the government froze its parent company’s assets. One year later, seven of the media’s former staff members, including its founder Jimmy Lai, are still detained and facing life imprisonment (see complete list below). To justify the prosecution, the government compiled more than 150 articles, op-eds, and videos published by the media and allegedly “criminal” under the National Security Law. 

Such judicial harassment of Apple Daily’s former staff, one year after the forced shutdown of the media, sends a chilling message to all Hong Kong-based journalists,” says RSF East Asia bureau head, Cédric Alviani, who urges democracies to “increase pressure on the Beijing regime for it to drop charges against defendants and immediately release those kept in prison.”

In 2021 RSF submitted two appeals urging the United Nations to “take all necessary measures” to safeguard press freedom in Hong Kong and obtain the immediate release of the Apple Daily founder and RSF Press Freedom Award Jimmy Lai. 

In December, the Chinese regime also used the National Security Law as a pretext to shut down the Chinese-language news site, Stand News, while the climate of fear confronting Hong Kong journalists led at least five smaller media outlets to cease their operations, including independent news agency FactWire last week.

In a report titled The Great Leap Backwards of Journalism in China, published in December 2021, RSF revealed the system of censorship and information control established by the Chinese regime and the global threat it poses to press freedom and democracy.

Hong Kong, once a bastion of press freedom, has plummeted from 80th place in 2021 to 148th place in the 2022 RSF World Press Freedom Index, marking the index’s sharpest drop of the year. China itself ranks 175th of 180 countries and territories evaluated.

 

The seven detained Apple Daily staff members

Jimmy Lai, 74, Media founder 

  • Detained since: December 2020, and already sentenced to a total of 20 months for four “unauthorised” protests in 2019 and 2020. 
  • Accusations: Six charges, ranging from “conspiracy to publish seditious publications” and “fraud” to “conspiracy to commit collusion with a foreign country or with external elements”.
  • Maximum punishment: Life imprisonment 
     

Cheung Kim-hung, 59, Chief Executive 

  • Detained since: 17 June 2021
  • Accusations: “conspiracy to commit collusion with a foreign country or with external elements”  and “conspiracy to publish seditious publication”
  • Maximum punishment: Life imprisonment
     

Law Wai-kwong (Ryan Law), 47, Editor-in-chief

  • Detained since: 17 June 2021  
  • Accusations: “conspiracy to commit collusion with a foreign country or with external elements”  and “conspiracy to publish seditious publication”
  • Maximum punishment: Life imprisonment
     

Lam Man-chung, 51, Executive editor-in-chief

  • Detained since: 17 June 2021
  • Accusations: “conspiracy to commit collusion with a foreign country or with external elements”  and “conspiracy to publish seditious publication”
  • Maximum punishment: Life imprisonment
     

Chan Pui-man, 51, Associate Publisher

  • Detained since: 21 July 2021 
  • Accusations: “conspiracy to commit collusion with a foreign country or with external elements”  and “conspiracy to publish seditious publication”
  • Maximum punishment: Life imprisonment
     

Fung Wai-kong (aka Lo Fung), 57, Managing Editor of Apple Daily (English)/Editorial writer

  • Detained since: 21 July 2021 
  • Accusations: “conspiracy to commit collusion with a foreign country or with external elements”  and “conspiracy to publish seditious publication”
  • Maximum punishment: Life imprisonment
     

Yeung Ching-kee (aka Li Ping), 55, Lead editorial writer 

  • Detained since: 21 July 2021
  • Accusations: “conspiracy to commit collusion with a foreign country or with external elements”  and “conspiracy to publish seditious publication”
  • Maximum punishment: Life imprisonment.
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148/180
Score : 41.64
Publié le 17.06.2022