Six former heads of the now defunct Hong Kong A pro-democracy newspaper pleaded guilty on Tuesday to conspiring under the National Security Law to silence and imprison most opposition voices in the southern Chinese territory.

Employees of Apple Daily were arrested last year in a crackdown on dissent after Beijing introduced a sweeping security law in response to widespread anti-government protests in 2019. They were accused of conspiring to conspire with foreign forces to threaten national security.

The law criminalizes acts of succession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign powers. His maximum sentence is life in prison. But the six were expected to receive lesser sentences because of their guilty pleas.

APPLE DAILY Increases Press After Hong Kong POLICE RAID

Publisher Cheung Kim Hung, Associate Publisher Chan Pui Man, Editor-in-Chief Ryan Lo, Executive Editor-in-Chief Lam Man Chung and editorial writers Fung Wai Kong and Yeung Ching Kee pleaded guilty to conspiring with the paper’s founder, Jimmy Lai, to call for sanctions or a blockade or engage in other hostile activities against Hong Kong or China.

Prosecutors allege that three companies related to Apple Daily also participated in the conspiracy from July 1, 2020 — the day after the National Security Act was enacted — to the day of the newspaper’s last print edition, June 24, 2021.

They pointed to the English version of the post, claiming it was introduced by Lai to ask foreign powers to impose sanctions or be hostile against Hong Kong or China. They said Lai was the mastermind behind the plot and the six acted to carry out the plans. After the security law was passed, Apple Daily denounced the legislation as “evil law” and called for resistance, they added.

Hong Kong police officers escort Cheung Kim Hoon, center, CEO and chief executive of Next Digital Ltd, to Apple Daily headquarters in Hong Kong. Six former Apple Daily executives pleaded guilty on November 22, 2022 to conspiracy under the National Security Law that led to the imprisonment of most of the opposition voices in China.
(AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)

Lai and the three companies are expected to plead not guilty to the charges and are scheduled to go on trial on December 1. Lai faces life in prison if convicted. If companies are found guilty, they can be fined and the proceeds of the crime confiscated.

After hearing their pleas and the prosecution’s arguments, the High Court judge found the six guilty. Their sentences will be handed down after Lai’s trial.

Local journalists and former employees of Apple Daily were among the spectators, some waving to the defendants before and after the hearing.


Police seized hard drives and laptops as evidence during a raid on Apple Daily’s offices in June 2021, causing shockwaves in the city’s media. Arrests of the newspaper’s top managers, editors and journalists, as well as the freezing of assets worth $2.3 million, led to the termination of its activities. It sold over a million copies last edition.

Hong Kong fell more than 60 places to 148th in the latest Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index released in May. The media watchdog cited the closure of Apple Daily and Stand News, a vocal online media outlet that gained popularity during the 2019 protests but was forced to close amid the ongoing crackdown.

The watchdog also said press freedom in the city had suffered an “unprecedented decline” since the introduction of the security law, which “serves as a pretext to silence independent voices” in the name of tackling crimes against national security.


Separately, nine people were found guilty of rioting during a violent protest in October 2019. another Hong Kong court on Tuesday. They were among thousands of residents who were arrested for taking part in mass protests three years ago.

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