Fung Wai-kong

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Hong Kong columnist and editor Fung Wai-kong is awaiting a sentence for conspiring to collude with foreign powers after pleading guilty in return for clemency on another charge. Police arrested Fung, the pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily’s senior editorial writer and the managing editor for the newspaper’s English edition, several times in 2021, and he has been in detention since July 21, 2021.

Apple Daily was a subsidiary of Next Digital Limited, which published the newspaper from 1995 to 2021, according to the company’s corporate information page. Fung wrote columns for the newspaper from 1997 and his last column in the newspaper was published on June 21, 2021. He also wrote columns for Citizen News, a crowd-funded Chinese-language news website. 

On June 27, police arrested Fung, who wrote under the penname Lo Fung, on suspicion of “conspiring to collude with foreign countries or foreign forces,” a crime under the national security law, at Hong Kong International Airport.

Previously, on June 16, Hong Kong police had arrested Apple Daily’s associate publisher Chan Pui-man, Next Digital Chief Operating Officer Royston Chow and 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

Chan, Chow, and Cheung Chi Wai were released on bail on June 18 after 40 hours of detention. Yeung and Fung were subsequently released on bail on June 25 and 29. 

On June 23, Hong Kong national security police arrested Yeung Ching-kee, who wrote under the pen name Li Ping, on suspicion of “conspiring to collude with foreign countries or foreign forces,” a crime under the national security law. 

On the same day, the board of Next Digital announced that it would publish its last edition and shut down operations the following day after authorities froze its assets.

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. 

On July 21, 2021, 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. 

The arrests of Fung, Next Digital and Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai—who had been imprisoned since December 2020—and other Apple Daily executives 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 July 22, a court in Hong Kong denied Chan, Fung, Yeung, and Lam’s bail application, and formally charged them with “conspiring to collude with foreign forces,” accusing them of conspiring with Lai, Law, Cheung Kim-hung, and three Next Digital entities to call for foreign sanctions against Hong Kong and China between July 1, 2020, and April 3, 2021, according to news reports.

On November 22, 2022, prosecutors agreed not to pursue the sedition charge and Yeung pleaded guilty to the collusion charge, though a sentence was not announced. The maximum sentence is life imprisonment, according to the Hong Kong government’s legislation database. As of late 2023, Fung was being held at the Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre.

CPJ’s email to the Hong Kong Police Force in October 2023 did not receive a response.