Hong Kong: 4 key Apple Daily figures denied bail
One of them, Lam Man-chung, was arrested yesterday. Journalists' Association: it's 'white terror'. RTHK journalists are banned from writing about 'the president or government of Taiwan'. Five trade unionists arrested for publishing children's stories explaining 2019 anti-government protests.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - The court in West Kowloon this morning denied bail to four key figures from the Apple Daily newspaper, which closed on June 24. Accused of threatening national security, the pro- democracy newspaper suffered a series of arrests and the freezing of assets worth HK million (€1.9 million).
Associate editor Chan Pui-man, English web page editor Fung Wai-kong, columnist Yeung Ching-kei and former editor-in-chief Lam Man-chung, who was arrested only yesterday, will await trial in prison. They are being charged with conspiring with foreign forces to have sanctions imposed on Hong Kong and China, an offence committed between July 2020 and April 2021.
After Lam's detention, the Hong Kong Association of Journalists called on the authorities to stop spreading 'white terror'. The term is used to denounce the use of the Security Act to target the media and terrorise the population.
According to Victor So, one of the judges assigned to national security cases, there is not enough evidence to believe that the four will no longer commit the alleged crimes. In order to obtain their release, defence lawyers said their clients were prepared to meet stringent conditions: avoiding interviews; no longer working in the media; no contact with foreign officials and legislators; and surrendering their passports.
The case against them was adjourned until 30 September. Jimmy Lai, founder of Apple Daily, the newspaper's publisher Cheung Kim-hung and editor-in-chief Ryan Law are already in jail.
The clampdown on information did not spare RTHK either. In a circular letter issued on 20 July, the management of the city's public TV station banned its journalists from using "inappropriate" terms such as "the president or government of Taiwan". Such expressions are considered contrary to the "one-China principle", invoked by the central government in its relations with the island, which the communist leadership considers a "rebel" province.
In addition, the National Security Police today arrested five trade unionists on charges of circulating "seditious" children's books. The General Union of Hong Kong Speech Therapists has published a series of short stories entitled 'Sheep Village Guardian'; the idea behind the book series is to help parents and teachers explain to children aged five to eight 'the events of 2019 in Hong Kong'. The reference is to the anti-government protests of the pro-democracy movement, to which Beijing responded by ordering the draconian security crackdown in June 2020.