The top editor of Hong Kong’s Apple Daily pro-democracy newspaper and the head of its parent company were brought to a courthouse Saturday for their first hearing since their arrest under the city’s national security law.
Ryan Law, the chief editor, and Cheung Kim-hung, the CEO of Next Digital, arrived in an unmarked white van with covered windows. They have been charged with collusion with a foreign country to endanger national security in a case widely seen as an attack on press freedom in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.
Three others also arrested Thursday — two Apple Daily senior editors and another executive — have not been charged yet and were released on bail late Friday pending further investigation.
The Apple Daily has long been one of the most outspoken defenders of civil liberties in Hong Kong. It supported massive protests demanding more democracy in 2019 and has criticized the subsequent crackdown, including the enactment of a national security law last year.
The central government in Beijing has defended the legislation and the crackdown on opposition voices as necessary to restore order and stability. The 2019 protests that challenged Beijing’s rule often started as peaceful marches during the day but turned into violent clashes between hard-core demonstrators and police at night.