Apple Daily executives denied bail in Hong Kong

Shanghai, China, Jun 19 (EFE).- The editor-in-chief and CEO of the Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily, which is critical of the Chinese government, were denied bail by a local judge Saturday and remanded in custody under China’s controversial national security law for the special-status territory.

Ryan Law, and Cheung Kim-Hung, who is the director of the paper’s parent company Next Digital, had offered to post bail of 3 million Hong Kong dollars ($386,000) and resign from their posts but the magistrate ruled that the pair continued to present a national security threat, according to the South China Morning Post.

Three other group executives have been released on bail while police investigations continue.

They are to appear in court on August 13, local media reported.

Cheung and Law are accused of colluding with foreign entities along with Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai, one of the most prominent figures in the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. Lai is currently serving a 14-month sentence for his role in the anti-government protests of 2019.

Local media reported that the charges relate to various Apple Daily articles calling for sanctions on China following the repression of the mass protests of 2019, although authorities have yet to publicly present the accusations.

In accordance with Article 29 of the national security law, the charges of colluding with foreign entities can be punishable with a life sentence.

Up to 500 agents participated in the raids that began Thursday at 06:00 local time (22:00 GMT Wednesday) in the homes of the five detainees, while another 200 officers went to the newspaper’s office with a court order that allowed them to seize journalistic material.

For now, the operation has resulted in the freezing of some $2.3 million distributed in a dozen bank accounts belonging to three companies linked to Apple Daily and with the seizure of more than 40 devices such as computers or hard drives.

While Apple Daily itself and international organizations such as Amnesty International have denounced the raids and arrests as a “new attack on press freedom,” local authorities said the operation is part of a conspiracy case and is not linked with the work of the media or journalists.

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