This general view shows the High Court building in Hong Kong on Aug 17, 2017. (ANTHONY WALLACE / AFP)
Six former senior executives of Hong Kong’s now-defunct Apple Daily newspaper pleaded guilty on Tuesday to conspiring with former media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying to collude with foreign forces to endanger national security.
A three-judge panel accepted the guilty pleas and recorded the convictions. The prosecution revealed that some of the six defendants will testify in the upcoming trial against Lai, which is scheduled to begin on Dec 1. Sentencing of the six was adjourned until after the completion of Lai’s case.
The charges allege that between April 1, 2019, and June 24, 2021, they conspired to print, publish, sell, offer for sale, distribute, display or reproduce seditious publication and solicit sanctions on Beijing and Hong Kong from foreign forces between July 1, 2020 to June 24, 2021
The six defendants are former editor-in-chief Ryan Law Wai-kwong, former publisher Cheung Kim-hung, former executive editor-in-chief Lam Man-chung, former associate publisher Chan Pui-man, and former editorial writers Fung Wai-kong and Yeung Ching-kee.
The charges allege that between April 1, 2019, and June 24, 2021, they conspired to print, publish, sell, offer for sale, distribute, display or reproduce seditious publication and solicit sanctions on Beijing and Hong Kong from foreign forces between July 1, 2020 to June 24, 2021. The sedition charges faced by all six were dropped in exchange for their guilty pleas.
Facing the same charges as the six, Lai earlier pleaded not guilty and will have the case heard on Dec 1. Lai also faces two additional collusion charges involving conspiring with others to seek foreign sanctions on China and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, between July 1, 2020 and Feb 15, 2021.
Three Apple Daily-linked companies were also charged with violating the National Security Law for Hong Kong by colluding with foreign forces to endanger national security and conspiracy to print, publish, sell, offer for sale, distribute, display or reproduce seditious publication under a colonial-era sedition law.
Cheung’s lawyer told the High Court that Cheung will appear in court as a prosecution witness in Lai’s case.
The collusion charge is punishable by up to life imprisonment.
Three National Security Law-designated judges — Esther Toh Lye-ping, Susana Maria D’Almada Remedios, and Alex Lee Wan-tang — heard the guilty plea of the six.
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