Two former editors of Hong Kong’s now-defunct pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily withdrew their bail review applications on Wednesday, as they face charges under the Beijing-imposed national security law.
Former executive editor-in-chief Lam Man-chung and former editor-in-chief of Apple Daily’s English news section Fung Wai-kong appeared in front of one of the city’s hand-picked national security law judges, Chief Magistrate Victor So.
The pair withdrew their applications to review their bail status at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts, as So refused to grant bail to them last week. Fung also gave up his right to submit further reviews. Both could still make a bail application to the city’s High Court, Commercial Radio reported.
Lam and Fung, along with Next Digital CEO Cheung Kim-hung, Apple Daily’s editor-in-chief Ryan Law, former associate publisher Chan Pui-man and editorial writer Yeung Ching-kee, were accused of conspiring with the paper’s founder Jimmy Lai to ask foreign countries or external forces “to impose sanctions or blockade, or engage in other hostile activities” against Hong Kong or China.
Three companies linked to Apple Daily were also charged under the sweeping legislation. Assets worth HK$18 million were frozen by officials.
In June 2020, Beijing inserted national security legislation directly into Hong Kong’s mini-constitution – bypassing the local legislature – following a year of pro-democracy protests and unrest. It criminalised subversion, secession, collusion with foreign forces and terrorist acts, which were broadly defined to include disruption to public transport and other infrastructure. The move gave police sweeping new powers, alarming democrats, civil society groups and trade partners, as such laws have been used broadly to silence and punish dissidents in China. However, the authorities say it has restored stability and peace to the city.