Lam Man-chung

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Hong Kong journalist Lam Man-chung is awaiting a sentence 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.

On July 21, police arrested Lam at his home on suspicion of “conspiring to collude with foreign countries or foreign forces,” a crime under the national security law, according to news reports.

Previously, on June 16, police also arrested Apple Daily’s associate publisher Chan Pui-man, editor-in-chief Ryan Law Wai-kwong, Next Digital’s chief operating officer Royston Chow, chief executive officer Cheung Kim-hung, and Apple Action News platform director Cheung Chi Wai from their homes on suspicion of conspiring to collude with foreign forces, 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, 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.

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

On June 27, police arrested Apple Daily’s senior editorial writer and the newspaper’s English edition managing editor Fung Wai-kong, who wrote under the pen name 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, news reports said. 

Yeung and Fung were subsequently released on bail on June 25 and 29, respectively, according to news reports. On July 21, the day of Lam’s arrest, police revoked Yeung, Chan, and Fung’s bails and separately detained them, according to news reports.

The arrests of Lam, Next Digital and Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai, 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

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

In September 2022, CPJ emailed the Hong Kong Police Force requesting comment, but did not receive any response.