Hong Kong journalist Chan Pui-man is being held in pretrial detention for allegedly conspiring to collude with foreign powers. Police arrested Chan, the pro-democracy Apple Daily’s associate publisher, several times in 2021, and she has been held since July 21.
Apple Daily, a subsidiary of the media company Next Digital Limited, was published from 1995 to 2021, according to the company’s corporate information page.
Hong Kong police arrested Chan, Next Digital Chief Operating Officer Royston Chow, Chief Executive Officer Cheung Kim Hung, Apple Daily editor-in-chief Ryan Law Wai-kwong, and Apple Action News platform director Cheung Chi-wai from their homes on June 16, 2021, on suspicion of conspiring to collude with foreign forces, a crime under Hong Kong’s national security law, according to news reports.
According to the South China Morning Post, police cited over 30 articles published by Apple Daily, mostly commentary and opinion pieces calling for foreign sanctions, as evidence. Police also raided the newspaper’s headquarters and the executives’ homes, and confiscated computers and documents, according to news reports.
Chan, Chow, and Cheung Chi-wai were released on bail on June 18, after 40 hours of detention, according to news reports. On June 23, the board of Next Digital announced that Apple Daily it would publish its last edition and shut down operations the next day after authorities froze its assets, according to reports.
Also on June 23, police arrested Apple Daily lead editorial writer Yeung Ching-kee, and on June 27 arrested the senior editorial writer and managing editor for the newspaper’s English edition, Fung Wai-kong, on collusion charges; Yeung and Fung were subsequently released on bail, according to news reports.
On July 21, police revoked Chan, Yeung, and Fung’s bails and detained them, according to news reports. On the same day, police arrested former executive editor-in-chief Lam Man-chung on suspicion of “conspiring to collude with foreign forces,” reports said. On July 22, a court denied Chan, Fung, Yeung, and Lam’s bail applications and formally charged them with collusion under the national security law, according to news reports.
Prosecutors accuse the four of conspiring with Law, Cheung Kim hung, Next Digital founder Jimmy Lai, and three Next Digital entities to call for foreign sanctions against Hong Kong and China between July 1, 2020, and April 3, 2021.
Chan, Lai, and other executives’ arrests came amid authorities’ crackdown on the city’s pro-democracy movement, which targeted many media figures and activists critical of the government and the Chinese Communist Party.
On October 12, Chan, Lai, and other Next Digital executives appeared at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court, where their national security cases were adjourned to December 28, according to news reports.
Chan pleaded not guilty to all of the charges, according to a Next Digital executive who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing security concerns.
Chan is currently being held at the Tai Lam Correctional Institution, according to the independent online new outlet Stand News and Hong Kong social worker Shiu Ka-chun, who coincidentally met Chan’s family when visiting activist Chow Hang-tung in July.
In an email signed by the “Duty Officer Police Public Relations Branch,” the Hong Kong police did not comment specifically on Chan’s case, but wrote to CPJ in September 2021 that some people arrested in the city “tried to make use of journalistic work to collude with a foreign country or external elements to impose sanction against Hong Kong and the PRC.” The email stated that such actions “deviated from the work of a professional journalist.”
The email also stated, “If any organisation or person violates the Hong Kong National Security Law or other offences, Police will conduct investigation and make arrest or prosecution according to evidence collected.”