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Hong Kong security law

Six ex-Apple Daily staff plead guilty to collusion in Hong Kong

Pro-democracy paper executives charged with conspiracy in national security case

Copies of the final edition of Apple Daily, published by Next Digital, at a newsstand in Hong Kong on June 24, 2021.   © Reuters

HONG KONG (Reuters) -- Six former staff of Hong Kong's defunct pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily pleaded guilty on Tuesday to conspiracy to commit collusion with foreign forces in a closely watched national security case.

The six pleaded guilty to conspiring with media tycoon Jimmy Lai and other people to request a foreign country or organization "to impose sanctions or blockade, or engage in other hostile activities" against the Hong Kong and Chinese governments between July 2020 and June 2021.

The six include Cheung Kim-hung, who was chief executive of the newspaper's former owner, Next Digital; Apple Daily's former associate publisher Chan Pui-man; former editor-in-chief Ryan Law; former executive editor-in-chief Lam Man-chung; former English edition editor-in-chief Fung Wai-kong; and former editorial writer Yeung Ching-kee.

In one of the former British colony's biggest national security cases, Lai and the six former Apple Daily staff members were charged with conspiracy to commit collusion with foreign forces under the new security law imposed by Beijing in 2020.

A fierce critic of Beijing, Lai, who is already in jail after being convicted for his role in an illegal assembly in 2020, faces multiple charges under the national security law. His complicated legal proceedings are likely to drag on into next year, according to some legal analysts.

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