The ex-acting chief editor of the now-defunct Stand News told a Hong Kong court that he intended to plead not guilty to sedition charges, as the case was adjourned until late June.
Stand News’ former editor in chief Chung Pui-kuen and former acting chief editor Patrick Lam, as well as Best Pencil (Hong Kong) Limited, the company that owns the media outlet, were set to appear in front of Judge Kwok Wai-kin at the District Court on Tuesday, World Press Freedom Day.
However, Lam was the only defendant present. Chung, 52, was absent and Best Pencil (Hong Kong) Limited remained unrepresented. The group stand accused of conspiring to publish “seditious publications” under the colonial-era anti-sedition law.
The 34-year-old Lam said through his lawyer that he intended to plead not guilty, and that he hoped a trial could be scheduled as soon as possible.
Chung’s lawyer told the court he did not have time to obtain instructions from the defendant, and asked the judge to adjourn the case for six weeks.
Kwok also asked the representatives of the two defendants’ their earliest availability for trial. After Lam’s counsel suggested an October trial date based on his schedule, Kwok said that Lam should seek another counsel if his current representative was not available earlier.
The case was adjourned until June 23. By late June, Chung and Lam will have been in remand for close to six months since they were first denied bail in late December last year.
The anti-sedition legislation, which was last amended in the 1970s when Hong Kong was still under British colonial rule, falls under the city’s Crimes Ordinance. It is separate from the Beijing-imposed national security law, and outlaws incitement to violence, disaffection and other offences against the authorities.
Additional reporting: Peter Lee