A Hong Kong court has denied bail to Cheung Kim-hung, former CEO of Next Digital which published the pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper, who has been detained for almost five months awaiting trial under the Beijing-enacted national security law.
The High Court threw out Cheung’s bail application on Friday, after Judge D’Almada Remedios said she was not satisfied there were sufficient grounds for believing that Cheung would not continue to commit acts endangering national security if bail were granted.
The 59-year-old is among six senior executives of Next Digital of the now-defunct Apple Daily, who stand accused of conspiring with the media company’s founder Jimmy Lai to request foreign powers to impose sanctions on Hong Kong and China. Three companies tied to the pro-democracy publication have also been charged.
Collusion with foreign forces is one of the four offences outlawed by the sweeping security legislation, which also targets secession, subversion and terrorist acts and provides for a maximum punishment of life imprisonment. The threshold for extending bail in national security cases is much tougher than in criminal cases, as provisions in the Beijing-imposed law created “a specific exception” to the general rule in favour of the granting of bail.
Some supporters of Cheung wore tote bags featuring a Chinese character that refers to “apple.” They waved goodbye to him as he was remanded into custody, with some chanting: “Take care of your health!”
Details from the bail hearing may not be reported owing to restrictions under section 9P of the Criminal Procedure Ordinance. The court may hand down a written judgement later to reveal the reasons for rejecting bail.
The once influential Apple Daily shut down in June following the arrest of its senior staffers. Its parent company Next Digital may soon be liquidated, after the city’s financial chief asked a local court in September to wind up the media group out of “public interest.”
Cheung and his co-defendants are set to appear in court again on December 28.