Six former top executives of Hong Kong’s now-defunct Apple Daily newspaper pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiring with newspaper founder Jimmy Lai Chee-ying to collude with foreign or external forces to endanger national security.
The three-judge panel accepted the guilty pleas and recorded the convictions.
The prosecution revealed that some of the six defendants will testify in the upcoming trial against Lai, which is scheduled to start on December 1.
The sentencing of the six was deferred until after the completion of Lai’s case.
The six charged are former editor-in-chief Ryan Law Wai-kwong, former editor-in-chief Cheung Kim-hung, former executive editor-in-chief Lam Man-chung, former associate editor Chan Pui-man, and former editorial writers Fung Wai-kong and Yeung Ching-kee.
All six were charged with conspiracy to print, publish, sell, offer for sale, distribute, display or reproduce seditious publications between April 1, 2019 and June 24, 2021, under a sedition law of the colonial era and requesting sanctions from foreign forces in Beijing and Hong Kong between July 1, 2020 and June 24, 2021, under the National Security Law.
The sedition charges the six faced were dropped in exchange for their guilty plea.
The prosecution said the six were directly involved in publishing, writing or creating purported news and opinion pieces, which included seditious statements and calls on the public to participate in anti-government protests.
The indictment listed 161 items relevant to the case to the court.
Facing the same charges as the six, Lai has pleaded not guilty and the case will be heard on December 1.
Lai also faces two additional charges of collusion involving conspiring with others to seek foreign sanctions against China and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, between July 1, 2020 and February 15, 2021.
Three companies linked to Apple Daily were also charged with violating Hong Kong’s National Security Law by colluding with foreign forces to endanger national security and conspiring to print, publish, sell, offer for sale, distribute, display or reproduce publications. seditious
Cheung’s lawyer told the High Court that Cheung will appear in court as a prosecution witness in Lai’s case.
The collusion charge is punishable by up to life in prison.
Three judges appointed by the National Security Law, Esther Toh Lye-ping, Susana Maria D’Almada Remedios and Alex Lee Wantang, heard the guilty pleas of the six.
Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal will hear an application from the city’s Justice Department for leave on Friday to overturn a lower court’s decision allowing British lawyer Tim Owen to represent Lai at his trial.