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Day 13: January 19, 2024

Ming Pao: [Continuously updated] Jimmy Lai Trial | Cheung said he “felt like there is hope for the movement” after Jimmy Lai met with US officials, and editorial policies became more “extreme” (17:55)

Next Media founder Jimmy Lai and three companies of “Apple Daily” were accused of conspiring to collude with foreign forces. The trial entered the 13th day. The prosecution continued to summon former “Apple Daily” president Cheung Kim-hung to testify. The prosecution focused on Apple Daily’s coverage of the anti-extradition bill demonstrations. Cheung Kim-hung pointed out that Jimmy Lai proposed to interview Causeway Bay Bookstore Manager Lam Wing-kee in Taiwan, as well as former Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten, so as to “encourage” people to participate in the anti-extradition bill demonstrations.

The prosecution mentioned a frontpage report on April 28, 2019, about the opposition to the amendment of the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, titled “Lam Wing-kee went into exile in Taiwan and made a farewell call to protect Hong Kong and take to the streets tomorrow”, which contained Lam Wing-kee’s interview. Cheung Kim-hung testified that Jimmy Lai instructed that the day’s headlines should be “To encourage protest on the 28th, we must invite Lam Wing-kee to do a phone interview on the front page.” Later, because Lai learned that Cheung was in Taiwan for business, he asked Cheung to interview Lam Wing-keei in person. After Cheung Kim-hung completed the interview and writing the report, he asked Apple Daily’s editor-in-chief Ryan Law Wai-kwong to post it online as soon as possible, and asked deputy president Chan Pui-man to explain to Law, ” Mr. Lai wants to use it as a headline to promote the protest next week.”

In addition to Lam Wing-kee, “Apple Daily” also published an interview with former Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten at the time. Cheung Kim-hung said that Jimmy Lai thought the effect of Lam Wing-kee’s interview was “not so hot. He wanted to find a way to push for more protesters. And it made me feel…like he was not satisfied.” Cheung also pointed out that Lai later asked Benedict Rogers, the founder of Hong Kong Watch, to contact Patten and ask Patten to talk about the anti-extradition bill incident during the interview to promote the April 28 demonstration. Patten later commented and said that the amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance are destined to undermine Hong Kong’s core values, stability and security, creating fear and unrest, putting politicians in danger, and directly attacking one country, two systems and the rule of law. Cheung added in court that at that time, Jimmy Lai hoped to publish the relevant content on the Apple Daily website and newspapers as soon as possible. In the end, the news of Patten’s interview appeared on the “Apple Daily” online news site on April 27 of the same year and was published in the newspaper on April 28.

“Ming Pao” live text update of the trial:

【16:13】The court is adjourned. The case was adjourned to next Tuesday for further hearing.

【16:00】 Cheung Kim-hung also explained the arrangement of the video talk, saying that the program is produced by the Hong Kong news department. Judge Alex Lee asked if all the video talks produced by the Hong Kong news team of “Apple Daily”, from July 2019 to the end of the same year, were all about the anti-extradition incident? Cheung said, “I had the impression that a majority of the content was. And most of the Hong Kong news team is involved in it.” Cheung added that the person in charge of the video talk is Ryan Law Wai-kwong.

Judge Alex Lee mentioned that he had never watched Apple Daily’s animated news and asked whether all users who subscribed to Apple News could watch the video talk? Cheung said that was correct and mentioned again that Apple Daily’s animated news had more than 300,000 subscribers as of early July 2019.

【15:47】 The prosecution focused on discussing Apple Daily’s editorial policy in the second half of 2019. Cheung testified that in July of the same year, at the “Lunch Box Meeting” of Taiwan’s “Apple Daily”, Lai once proposed to find the opposition and protesters to “shoot videos and talk to them”, and instructed Cheung to follow up after returning to Hong Kong. Cheung added, “The video talk is about having dialogues and livestreams, and then we put them on the news platform” Cheung believes that the purpose of inviting protesters to appear on the program was to “ask them to talk about their experiences and hardships, but in the end many protesters don’t want to be on camera.” Therefore, Cheung suggested to Lai that the program be recorded in an interview format instead.

The prosecution further asked “Apple” what the purpose of interviewing the protesters was, and Cheung said, “I believe he (Lai) wanted to arouse people’s sympathy for the protesters and the conditions of the struggle.”

【15:18】 The prosecution shows the next article, titled ” Jimmy Lai calls on people to stand up peacefully, defy the gangs, and promote international support for Hong Kong’s anti-extradition movement.” This article was published in “Apple Daily” on July 25, 2019. Cheung said, “After Mr. Lai finished appearing on Albert Ho’s “Zhongnanhai in Detail” program that day, he told me about his earlier meeting with Mike Pompeo (then US Secretary of State) on the program” and asked Cheung to follow up on the relevant news.

At that time, Cheung once lamented: “It turns out that Mr. Lai can really go to the White House and meet such high-ranking officials.” “Wow! Mr. Lai Li can really go to the White House and tell the American officials about the situation in Hong Kong.” There was some excitement, and I felt like there was hope for this movement.” Cheung continued, “Maybe after Mr. Lai did this once, there will be more and more sanctions later.” Upon hearing this, Jimmy Lai began to take notes frequently in the defendant’s dock.

Cheung continued to point out that “Apple Daily’s subsequent editorial policy on the anti-extradition amendment movement has become more and more intense and extreme.” Lai began to mention to Cheung on different occasions that “demonstration and resistance, and courage should not be divided, and should not be divided by others, and the struggle is long-term.” Regarding the violent scenes in the anti-extradition bill protests, “Apple Daily” “will report more sympathetically, even if it feels that the Hong Kong government and the Chinese Communist Party have pushed the people to do so.”

【14:31】The court resumed in the afternoon
The prosecution showed the exchange of information between Christian Whiton and Paul Wolfowitz, which was forwarded by Lai to Cheung on July 10, 2019. Cheung said that the former “should be an adviser to the State Department” and the latter “seems to be a former official of the Department of Defense,” but Cheung has no contact with either of them. The information was about a Bloomberg article titled “Trump Team Sends Defiant Signal to Beijing by Meeting Hong Kong Activist.”

The prosecution asked Cheung why Lai forwarded the information to him? Cheung pointed out that Lai probably wanted him to know the background of the incident, adding that he only learned about Lai’s meeting with then-U.S. Vice President Pence and many other U.S. officials after Lai landed in the United States. “After he (Lai) met with senior officials, he was so excited, thinking it was very helpful to the movement.”

【12:55】The court was adjourned.

【12:40】 The next session led by the prosecution is about the messages sent by Cheung to Lai on July 5, 2019:

“As of 2am today (5th), the total number of people paying for Apple Daily in Hong Kong has exceeded 300,000!

Boss, for every 300,000 people who pay, we will push the button to inform readers that we will issue a check to donate 300,000 to the anti-extradition law litigation fund.”

Cheung explained, “we would promote it to the readers, so that they know there are 300,000 readers, so that they know that we will send a check of HK$ 300,000 to the fund.” Later, Lai approved the donation HK$1 of every HK$3 fees to the fund under “Apple Daily’s” name.

【12:30】 The prosecution discussed the WhatsApp messages between Jimmy Lai and Cheung Kim-hung that took place on June 15, 2019

Cheung: “1. We have resubmitted to the App Store. If approved on Monday, the handling charge can be collected in the afternoon… 2. For those who come out to fight this time, we can allocate one dollar from the three dollar handling fee to set up a fund to provide the protesters with medical treatment and legal assistance in the future. “

Lai: “1. Delay until further approval, 2. Very good idea! Thank you.”

Cheung explained the meaning of the message, saying, “He (Lai) agreed and thought it would be a good idea to charge a handling charge to support the protesters’ future legal suits and medical expenses.”

Cheung also pointed out that Lai decided to charge a one-time handling fee of 3 dollars to registered members for the “Apple Daily” online news starting from July 1, 2019, and changed it again to a monthly subscription fee on September 1 of the same year. “Mr. Lai felt that by allocating the money to help the medical expenses of the protesters, we can encourage people who support the movement to subscribe to Apple Daily.”

【12:17】 Cheung Kim-hung added that on June 16, no banners were sent out with the newspaper, because Lai suddenly said, “The extradition bill was post-poned, and some people committed suicide because of the extradition bill. The pro-democracy [politician] Lee Cheuk-yan halted the plan.” The prosecution asked what was the purpose of distributing these long banners, Cheung said, “On June 16, the unions were intensifying the strikes, so Mr. Lai asked me to write on the back [of the banner] to go on strike, not go to school, and shut down the market” to promote the Third Strike and non-cooperation demonstrations.

【12:03】The court session resumed. The prosecution began to discuss a message sent by Lai to Cheung in June 2019, which read: “The pro-democracy camp will march on Sunday and they want us to print 100,000 long banners, 35 inches long and 15 inches wide, and distribute them to the protesters to bring home and hang from their windows. Three black big characters that say “anti-extradition to China” on the red background. Please ask Kim-hung to write in calligraphy. I will ask Wong Wai-keung to handle it. Thank you. Lai”

Cheung explained that the background of this information was “On June 16, there was an anti-extradition law demonstration. Mr. Lai wanted me to print the three words on long banners and send them along with the newspaper.” He meant the banners should be sent out along with the newspaper published on June 16, 2019.

【11:19】The court was adjourned. Before adjourning the court, Judge Esther Toh was concerned that the defendant had difficulty reading the information displayed on the screen. Defense barrister Steven Kwan said that Lai unfortunately suffered from an eye disease and his condition worsened after recent surgery. He mainly relied on the prosecution to read out the content read out in court. Judge Alex Lee asked whether Lai could move his seat forward. The defense said it “doesn’t seem to be an option” because of “security concerns.” After discussion the prosecution agreed to read out everything possible. The prosecution stated that the screen would be enlarged.

【10:56】 Cheung Kim-hung continued to mention the interview arrangements before the 428 march, he said he received WhatsApp messages from Jimmy Lai. From the messages, Cheung understood Lai’s thinking: “Lam Wing-kee’s interview helped the demonstration, but it was not very enthusiastic. He (Lai) still wanted to find ways to promote the protest. I felt he wasn’t satisfied with the interview.” Cheung also said that Lai later asked Benedict Rogers (the founder of Hong Kong Watch) to find former Hong Kong Governor Patten and ask Patten to talk about the anti-extradition bill during an interview, so as to promote the 428 demonstration.

Later, Lai obtained a quote from Patten to Benedict Rogers, and Lai forwarded the relevant content to Cheung. Cheung understood at that time, “Mr. Lai wanted me to publish it on the Apple Daily website and the newspaper as soon as possible.” In the end, the news of Patten’s interview appeared on the “Apple Daily” online news site on April 27 of the same year, and was published in the newspaper on April 28. .

Cheung testified that Lai forwarded Patten’s reply to Benedict Rogers to him on the same day. In the message, Patten stated that the revision of the “Fugitive Offenders Ordinance” would undermine Hong Kong’s core values, stability and security, create fear and uneasiness, put politicians at risk, and harm the one country, two systems and the rule of law. The message has Chris Patten’s signature at the end. Cheung added in court that Lai wanted him to “publish” Patten’s views on the legislative amendments “as soon as possible” on Apple Daily’s website and newspapers.

【10:45】 The prosecution asked again about a section of the article that said, “He who is a Hong Konger is suppressed… If he wants to resist the regime in Hong Kong and the mainland, he must stand up. Hong Kong people are not prone to pretend to sleep.” Cheung said that he quoted Lam Wing-kee in the article as saying in an interview that “Hong Kong people are not prone to pretend to sleep” because he believed that “Cantonese quotes are more expressive and Hong Kong people will feel it more deeply.”

【10:30】 Cheung Kim-hung continued that he was on a business trip in Taiwan at the time, so Jimmy Lai asked him to personally interview Lam Wing-kee. Afterwards, Cheung wrote a transcript of the interview with Lam Wing-kee and sent it to his colleagues at “Taiwan Apple Daily” and Ryan Law Wai-kwong (the editor-in-chief of “Apple Daily” at the time of the incident), asking the latter to publish it to online news website as soon as possible. At that time, Cheung ordered Chan Pui-man (Vice President of “Apple Daily” at the time), “Tell him (Ryan Law Wai-kwong) that Mr. Lai wanted to use it as a front page story to promote the demonstration next week.” Cheung added that the demonstration was referring to the “428 Anti-Extradition” march on April 28th, 2019.

The next day, “Apple Daily” ran a front page story titled “Lam Wing-kee’s farewell call from exile in Taiwan to protect Hong Kong and take to the streets tomorrow.” The article began by mentioning that “He (Lam Wing-kee) has decided to run to freedom from fear and has to leave the land of his birthplace forever. He is sad, he is heartbroken that Hong Kong has fallen.” Cheung said that the purpose of the article was “to follow Mr. Lai’s instructions, that is, to urge more people to take to the streets.”

【10:04】The court began. The prosecution continued to discuss the topic of Jimmy Lai’s “editorial instructions” to “Apple Daily” and asked Cheung Kim-hung to focus on the information sent by Jimmy Lai to himself on April 26, 2019. Cheung said that Lai mentioned two names in the message, namely Lam Wing-kee and Liau Chung-ren (廖中仁). Cheung said that Lam Wing-kee was the manager of the Causeway Bay Bookstore and was detained in the Mainland for a period of time. He never returned to the Mainland after returning to Hong Kong and was wanted by the Chinese government. Cheung also claimed that he did not know Liau Chung-ren, but it was inferred from the information that Liau was a photographer for RTHK.

Cheung later replied to Lai, saying, “Boss, I have asked my colleagues in Taiwan to handle it.” Cheung explained that at that time he was trying to find out where Lam was in Taiwan and trying to contact him. Later, Lai instructed Cheung, “Use “Apple Daily” headlines to encourage the protest on the 28th. To make the headlines, you must ask Lam Wing-kee to do a phone interview.” Therefore, Cheung replied, “Colleagues in Taiwan have already kept track of his (Lam) whereabouts.”

Ming Pao

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