Pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily’s headquarters were raided as part of a police operation involving 500 officers after five senior executives from Next Digital and Apple Daily were arrested for allegedly conspiring to collude with foreign forces.
Those arrested included Next Digital CEO Cheung Kim-hung, Chief Operating Officer Royston Chow, Apple Daily’s Editor-in-Chief Ryan Law, Associate Publisher Chan Pui-man and Cheung Chi-wai, who manages the newspaper’s online news platform.
Cheung Kim-hung and Law were later charged under the national security law. The pair were denied bail and remanded in custody.
The newspaper published its last edition on June 24, after its board decided to cease all operations in Hong Kong as a result of the Security Bureau freezing HK$18 million worth of assets belonging to three companies linked to Apple Daily.
Local media reported that as the bureau requested “sensitive materials” from the company, including the personal information of employees, after Apple Daily asked the bureau to unfreeze its assets.
First national security trial
The first national security trial began in late June after the Court of Appeal upheld a decision to try the city’s first national security suspect, Tong Ying-kit, without a jury.
Tong filed an application for leave to launch a judicial review against a certificate from Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng. The court rejected Tong’s application and said that a jury was not an “indispensable element” in a fair trial.
The 24-year-old later pleaded not guilty as the trial began, and the prosecution argued that the “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” slogan was used with an intention to separate the city from China.
Tiananmen Massacre vigil
Following a police ban on the Tiananmen Massacre vigil citing Covid-19 health concerns, Hong Kong people found other ways of commemorating the victims on the 32nd anniversary of the crackdown.
Barrister Chow Hang-tung was detained on the morning of the anniversary, after police arrested her on suspicion of publicising the unlawful assembly. Hundreds of police officers sealed Victoria Park ahead of the scheduled time for the banned rally, as black-clad activists roamed the streets around the park holding electronic candles.
Student leaders arrested
Two student activists from Student Politicism were arrested for planning to set up street booths on the second anniversary of a violent clash between police and pro-democracy protesters outside the government headquarters on June 12.
Wong Yat-chin, 20, and spokesperson Alice Wong, 19, were arrested for allegedly inciting others to participate in an unlawful assembly and publicising and publishing information about an unauthorised assembly.
Wong was arrested on the evening of June 4 after his group set up a street booth in Mong Kok to commemorate the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre by playing a BBC documentary about the bloody crackdown.
Owen Chow, who is one of the 47 democrats charged with subversion after they participated in a primary election for the since-postponed Legislative Council election, was granted bail by High Court judge Esther Toh.
A total of 12 defendants in the case have been granted bail, as Chief Magistrate Victor So refused bail to seven other democrats, Ben Chung, Gordon Ng, Henry Wong, Andrew Chiu, Lau Chak-fung, Gary Fan and Winnie Yu.
The prosecution has also asked for the case to be moved to the High Court, where the group of activists could face life imprisonment if convicted.
In a separate case, the Court of Appeal refused bail to Lester Shum and Tiffany Yuen, pending an appeal against their prison terms over a banned vigil last year to commemorate the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre.
Shum and Yuen had been sentenced to six and four months behind bars respectively in May after pleading guilty to taking part in an unauthorised assembly on June 4 last year.
Baroness Brenda Hale, one of 13 foreign judges currently sitting as non-permanent members of Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal, announced she will quit Hong Kong’s top court when her term ends. She reportedly said that there were “all sorts of question marks” over Beijing’s new national security law.
Film and book censorship
The government updated the Film Censorship Ordinance to instruct the Film Censorship Authority to be “vigilant” against the depiction of “any act or activity which may amount to an offence endangering national security” in vetting whether films are appropriate for public screening.
Organisers of the Hong Kong Book Fair said they will notify the police if it receives complaints about exhibits suspected of violating the national security law, while books written by media tycoon Jimmy Lai had been removed from a public library.
The Leisure and Cultural Services Department said that a total of 72 collections were suspended as their content were suspected of breaching the national security law.
A US-based advocacy group, Hong Kong Liberation Coalition, co-founded by former lawmaker Baggio Leung, said that their website was taken down by US web-hosting company WordPress upon the request of Hong Kong police on national security grounds. WordPress denied the claim, saying only that the group had broken their rules.
Israel-based web host Wix said that they made an error in pulling a Hong Kong democracy website, www.2021HKCharter.com, from its servers following a takedown request made under the national security law by the Hong Kong police.
SIM card registration
Users of pre-paid SIM cards will be required to provide their name, identity card number, date of birth, and a copy of their identification document by February 23, 2023. The government said the new regulations were necessary to plug “gaping loopholes” in current regulations and allow law enforcement officers to better investigate crime.
A 17-year-old secondary school student was remanded in custody over an alleged conspiracy to produce seditious publications along with a 45-year-old woman.
The pair are accused of conspiring to print and distribute materials last year to excite Hong Kong inhabitants to “attempt to procure the alteration, otherwise than by lawful means, of any other matter in Hong Kong as by law established, or to counsel disobedience to law or to any lawful order.”
The police also deployed more than 20 officers to arrest a 40-year-old man in connection with the displaying of a protest flag outside the window of a flat in Mong Kok. A 36-year-old woman was also arrested over alleged “seditious intentions” for the same incident.
In another case, a 37-year-old man was arrested under British colonial-era laws for allegedly “doing acts with a seditious intention” after protest stickers were found on the security gate of a flat in Chai Wan. Police said that the stickers were also in alleged breach of the national security law