Hong Kong journalist Lam Man-chung is awaiting sentencing for conspiring to collude with foreign powers after pleading guilty in return for clemency on another charge. Hong Kong police arrested Lam, executive editor-in-chief of the pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily and manager of its English edition, on July 21, 2021.
Apple Daily was a subsidiary of the media company Next Digital Limited, which published the newspaper from 1995 to 2021, according to the company’s corporate information page.
Previously, on June 16, Hong Kong police had arrested Apple Daily 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.
On June 23, police arrested the newspaper’s lead editorial writer Yeung Ching-kee, who wrote under the pen name Li Ping, on the same charge, news reports said. On the same day, the board of Next Digital announced that it would publish its last edition and shut down operations the next day after authorities froze its assets.
On June 23, Hong Kong national security police arrested Yeung Ching-kee, who wrote under the pen name Li Ping, on the same charge. 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 June 27, police arrested the newspaper’s English edition managing editor Fung Wai-kong, 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.
The arrests of Lam, Next Digital and Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai—who had been imprisoned since December 2020—and other 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 Lam 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. Lam was being held at the Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre as of late 2023.
CPJ’s email to the Hong Kong Police Force in October 2023 did not receive a response.