Former Chief Editor of Apple Daily, Ryan Law Wai-kwong was denied bail Aug. 13 for a second time by a Hong Kong court under China’s National Security Law, or NSL, according to the Hong Kong Free Press. It’s the latest move by the Chinese Communist Party, or CCP, as leadership pursues of absolute control.
Ryan Law has been held in custody since June 19, the day that he was first denied bail, and made a second attempt at freedom when he returned to West Kowloon Court this past Friday.
Under the ever-restrictive Beijing-imposed NSL, acts the CCP deems to qualify as collusion with foreign forces, secession, subversion, or terrorist attacks are punishable by up to a life imprisonment.
Chief Magistrate Victor So Wai-tak, handpicked by Hong Kong’s city leader Carrie Lam, said he found no material change of circumstances since Ryan Law’s first hearing in June, and that there is no reason to change his bail status.
The ex-editor in chief appeared in court next to Cheung Kim-hung, ex-CEO of Apple Daily’s parent company, Next Digital. The pair are accused of conspiring with the newspaper and media company founder and longtime Acton friend Jimmy Lai in seeking international sanctions from foreign governments against Hong Kong or mainland China.
Cheung Kim-hung also requested and was denied bail back in June. However, unlike Ryan Law, Cheung did not renew his application for bail this time. Cheung’s lawyers reported he may do so at the City’s High Court at a later time.
Law and Cheung were two of the five Apple Daily executives arrested during the Hong Kong authorities’ raid on Apple Daily headquarters on June 17. Over 100 police officers forcibly entered and seized computers, files, and personal records of Apple Daily employees, and froze HK $18 million in assets. On June 24, the 26-year-old business was forced to close and printed its last edition.
On the day of the raid, the Committee to Protect Journalism commented on the arrests of the five Apple Daily senior employees, saying, “Hong Kong’s Orwellian National Security Law destroys any remaining fiction that Hong Kong supports freedom of the press.”
Held in high contention by the CCP, the pro-democracy news service has been publicly opposed by Chinese elites and state media since its launch. Since its implementation in June 2020, the NSL has enabled the CCP to censor anything and anyone in relation to Apple Daily and Jimmy Lai under the guise of protecting Chinese national security.
The pair of defendants will return to court on Sept. 30, along with four other senior employees of Next Digital, who were charged with the same offenses under the NSL. Hong Kong police will continue their examination of Apple Daily computers and investigation of their files.