17 January 2024 - Today, the first witness for the prosecution in the National Security Trial of Jimmy Lai, has testified against the former Apple Daily owner. The testimony of the first prosecution witness, Cheung Kim-hung, was heard by the courtroom. He accused Lai of instructing him to "use Apple Daily to call people to take to the streets, to demonstrate, and to pressure the government".
Several other former Apple Daily employees, Chan Pui-man, Yeung Ching-kee, Andy Li, and Chan Tsz-wah, who have all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit collusion with foreign forces, were also summoned as witnesses.
Jimmy Lai, a British citizen, has pleaded not guilty to charges of foreign collusion and of publishing “seditious” materials.
Responding to the news, Mark Clifford, President of the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong (CFHK) Foundation and former director of Apple Daily’s parent company, Next Digital, said on Wednesday:
“I do not feel anger but immense sorrow at Cheung Kim-hung’s testimony in the prosecution of Jimmy Lai.
“Kim-hung and five colleagues have been held as hostages almost three years, since authorities forced Apple Daily to shut in mid-2021. They have pled guilty but remain behind bars, denied bail, so that they can be used as bit players in the ongoing show trial against Jimmy Lai.
“None of us know how we would react if put under the sort of strain that Kim-hung and others have endured.
“We all like to think we would be as brave and honorable in sticking to our principles as Jimmy Lai has been. Thankfully, most of us will never be tested like this.
“On a more personal note, Kim-hung mentioned my name as someone who helped find writers for Apple Daily. Yes, I, too, plead guilty of practicing journalism. However, it was Kim-hung and his colleagues, working with Jimmy, who deserve the accolades for everything they did to advance the cause of freedom and democracy in Hong Kong in the 26 years they ran the city’s most important newspaper.
“Nothing in Kim-hung’s testimony suggests that Jimmy broke the law. He simply advocated for the freedom and democracy that was promised by China under the Basic Law, the mini-constitution that governs the territory.
“Hong Kong is on trial, not Jimmy Lai. Every day of this kangaroo court provides new evidence that the Chinese Communist Party and its Hong Kong helpers are guilty – guilty of undercutting the freedom enshrined in the principle of ‘One Country, Two Systems’ and the vow that Hong Kong’s way of life would continue for 50 years after China’s 1997 takeover. Rights promised in the Basic Law and the Sino-British Declaration, an international treaty, are being trashed by Beijing and its Hong Kong enablers.
“The sad spectacle of Cheung Kim-hung’s testimony simply reinforces what we have long asserted: Jimmy Lai’s trial is a sham. It is heartening to see the international community stand in solidarity against the erosion of justice and press freedom in Hong Kong and demand accountability for China’s broken promises.
"Jimmy Lai and others held under the National Security Law should be released immediately.”