Weaponised legal system posed to accelerate attacks on Hong Kong’s press freedom.
The Association of Overseas Hong Kong Media Professionals (AOHKMP) is urgently calling attention to the escalating use of the law to crack down on press freedom.
We do so as fears mount over a slew of pending trials which threaten media professionals with life time jail sentences and have seen judges uphold rulings that severely undermine the operation of an independent media.
The trails that are underway and pending are likely to affirm our worst fears as they are being overseen by judges handpicked to preside over court cases involving the newly imposed National Security Law. The long standing right of Hong Kong citizens to right of trial by jury will also be disregarded in these cases.
In addition, as the media crackdown accelerates, the regime is reviving colonial era sedition laws, long regarded as redundant.
The most high profile trial, expected to commence next month, is that of Jimmy Lai, the founder of the now closed down mass circulation Apple Daily newspaper and other companies operating under the umbrella of the defunct Next Digital group.
Mr Lai, who has already been jailed for trumped up fraud charges (alongside Wong Wai-kueng, Next Digitals’ Administrative Director) is also serving jail time on dubious charges of unlawful assembly. He now faces far more serious charges of conspiring to collude with foreign forces and sedition. These charges carry the possibility of a life sentence and carry the threat of Mr Lai’s extradition to the Chinese mainland.
Similar charges and threats of lifetime imprisonment are being faced by eight other former Next Digital employees:
Ryan Law, Apple Daily Editor in Chief
Cheung Kim-hung, Next Digital Chief Executive Officer
Chow Tat-kuen, Next Digital Chief Operating Officer
Chan Pui-man, Apple Daily Deputy Chief Editor
Cheung Chi-wai, Apple Daily Digital Director
Yeung Ching-kee, well known columnist
Fung Wai-kong, Editor in Chief of Apple Daily English edition and well known columnist
Lam Man-Chung, Apple Daily Executive Editor-in-Chief
Another trial has begun involving journalists from the popular news portal Stand News, like Apple Daily it was forced to terminate operations after police raids.
Chung Pui-Kuen and Patrick Lam are facing sedition charges and in a separate case Ronson Chan, from Stand News and Chairperson of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, is facing charges of obstructing a policewoman.
In November the award winning television producer Bao Choy, lost her appeal for making false statements when accessing a government website to try and identify thugs involved in a notorious train station attack on pro-democracy democracy protestors. Following the appeal court ruling Ms Choy said, “It’s a decision that really hinders the access to free information in the city… that will create obstacles for the press to act as a brake on the abuse of power, and to monitor and hold the powerful accountable.”
The AOHKMP calls for an immediate halt to these trials and for the Hong Kong regime to cease its attacks on the media. We urge the international community to note how the law is being weaponised when considering the credibility of the judicial system that claims to be safeguarding Hong Kong’s role as an international financial centre.
For media enquiries in Chinese or English email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Press Release Download
The AOHKMP, launched in October 2022, is an association of media professionals who have worked in Hong Kong and are now living overseas where, unlike their colleagues still in the territory, they are free to defend press freedom.