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Day 26: February 08, 2024

Ming Pao: Jimmy Lai Case | Chan Pui-man: Cheung Kim-hung decided to reprint the special edition on the anti-extradition bill protests, personally wrote the title “Let’s Strike” with calligraphy (16:16)

Founder of Next Digital, Jimmy Lai, and three companies associated with Apple Daily face trial for the charge of conspiracy to collude with foreign forces. “Accomplice witness,” and then associate publisher of Apple Daily, Chan Pui-man, appeared in court to testify.

Live updates from Ming Pao on the trial:

【16:18】Court adjourned.

【16:13】The prosecution repeatedly questioned the “lunchbox meeting” mentioned in the messages by Cheung Kim-hung. Judge Alex Lee Wan-tang expressed confusion about the significance of spending nearly 20 minutes discussing this issue, stating, “frankly, I don’t know how important that is.” After discussion, Chan Pui-man estimated that the particular “lunchbox meeting” might have taken place in December 2019.

【15:50】The prosecution presented excerpts from messages on the internal platform “Slack” from co-defendant Cheung Kim-hung, as follows:

Cheung Kim-hung: “Today’s lunch box meeting highlights and follow-ups:

  1. For the interviews in Apple Pictorial and Entertainment People, we should spend more time with the interviewees to dig out their life stories. The same requirements should be made for outsourcing.
  2. For the weekend editorial section, we can try to invite authors from The Initium or Stand News who write well.
  3. After the graphic layout design competition, we should continue to hold weekly voting, provide rewards, and even have a monthly or quarterly award.
  4. For the Sunday supplement on parenting and pets, we can try to see what’s suitable from the content on the parenting and pet minisites.
  5. We can compile the three major protest graphics of the extradition bill movement for publication.”

Regarding the “Commentary” section of Apple Daily, the prosecution asked about “Stand News,” “The Initium,” and “Citizen News.” Chan answered that they are all online media. As for the “three major protest graphics of the extradition bill movement,” Chan explained that it refers to special editions like “Summer of Freedom” and “June anti-authoritarianism.”

When asked about how the “lunch box meeting” is organized, Chan explained that Jimmy Lai would propose a date for the meeting with Apple Daily colleagues, and each person would select attendees for the meeting, with the list being passed to Cheung Kim-hung’s secretary. When asked who attended, Chan said that Jimmy Lai, Cheung Kim-hung, Lam Man-chung, and herself usually attended.

【15:18】The prosecution displayed the front page of Apple Daily from January 1, 2020, with the headline “Entering 2020, Citizens Call for the Liberation of Hong Kong,” and below it, it mentioned “Tomorrow we’ll send out anti-authoritarian calendars.” Chan confirmed that calendars were indeed given to readers. The prosecution then showed the front page of the following day’s Apple Daily, with the headline mentioning “Hong Kong people, fight!” When asked who is fighting, Chan replied, “people at the protest sites shout slogans, so they are fighting for those demands, like the ‘five demands’ they often mention.”

In court, WhatsApp messages between another co-defendant, Apple Daily’s Chief Editor Yeung Ching-kee, and Chan Pui-man were displayed.

Chan Pui-man: “Ching-kee, could you or Jason please organize and inform me of the recent additions to the list of authors? We have a lunch box meeting the day after tomorrow. Thanks.”

Yeung Ching-kee: “I’ll email you the details tonight.”

Upon being questioned by the prosecution, Chan explained that Yeung Ching-kee sometimes took days off, so assistance was needed to handle the Apple Daily forum section, hence the need to organize the list of forum section authors.

【15:06】The prosecution presented a push notification from the Apple Daily mobile app regarding the effective date of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act signed by then-US President Trump in November 2019. Chan confirmed it was an online news article. The prosecution asked if this would be considered a “major news” item for the Apple Daily, to which Chan confirmed, “Yes.”

The prosecution showed an open letter released by Benedict Rogers, founder of Hong Kong Watch, in December 2019. In the letter, Rogers stated that the world needs to understand that Hong Kong protesters resort to violence in response to “police brutality,” and he said, “I still believe that when the movement stands on the ‘moral high ground’ and protests peacefully, it is in its best state.” The prosecution asked if “moral high ground” is a term used by Lai in interviews with foreign media, and Chan answered yes. Chan revealed that she had passed the open letter to colleagues in the online department for follow-up and also shared it with colleagues in the newsroom, “including relevant news articles.”

【14:40】Regarding Jimmy Lai’s visit to the United States in October 2019, the prosecution presented photos retrieved from Lai’s phone, including a photo of Lai with then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The prosecution asked Chan Pui-man if she had seen the photos, to which Chan replied, “I’m not sure if I have.” The prosecution also mentioned that Mark Simon, Jimmy Lai’s assistant, sent a photo to Lai in October 2019, showing Lai with Legislative Councilor Dennis Kwok Wing-hang, Senator Ted Cruz, former Chief Secretary for Administration Anson Chan, and Legislative Councilor Charles Mok.

The prosecution also presented a report from the Apple Daily titled “US lawmakers criticize Lam’s weak meeting,” with the phrase “Supporting Hong Kong” in front of the title. The prosecution read out the last paragraph of the report, stating that Ted Cruz visited Hong Kong and met with politicians, which Chan confirmed.

【14:39】Court session begins.
【12:47】Court recess.

【12:34】The prosecution continued to question Jimmy Lai’s visit to the United States in October 2019. Chan Pui-man confirmed that the Apple Daily reported on Lai’s itinerary at the time. Chan also confirmed a report from October 28, 2019, with a photo showing Lai with then-US House Speaker Pelosi and Democratic Party founder Martin Lee.

【12:28】The prosecution continued to show exchanges between Jimmy Lai and Chan Pui-man on October 24, 2019.

Jimmy Lai: “Pui-man, since I don’t have time to write an article for this issue, can you conduct an interview with me, asking about ten questions on current situations in Hong Kong and about this Washington lobbying trip, and I’ll respond for the column?”

Chan Pui-man:”Jimmy, Ophe has already sent it to you. Thank you.”

The prosecution presented the final article published in Jimmy Lai’s column, “Success is a Laugh,” titled “What Americans Want to Say to Us,” which was in the form of a Q&A interview about Lai’s impressions of his visit to the United States. Chan Pui-man confirmed in court that the questions in the article were generally formulated after discussions with colleagues at that time.

The prosecution asked Chan why she asked Lai, “Has there been a change in the views of the American political sphere on the Hong Kong protests with the escalation of violence?” Chan explained that at the time, some American legislators were concerned about the escalation of violence in the protests.

As for why she asked, “After the passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, can the gangster police, Regina Ip, and Junius Ho really be sanctioned?” Chan explained that at the time, the United States was considering enacting the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, and many protesters believed that the individuals mentioned in the question should be held accountable and sanctioned.

【12:10】The prosecution presented the English version of “Summer of Freedom,” featuring a page titled “Destiny on the side of people,” with photos of anti-extradition protests from around the world, including a full-page display of protests in New York City, USA. Chan Pui-man confirmed that the mentioned pages were unique to the English version and not included in the Chinese version.

The prosecution continued to present a screenshot of a phone, showing a push notification from the Apple Daily mobile app with the title “Go International! ‘Summer of Freedom’ is available in bilingual eBook format for free download.” Chan Pui-man explained that at that time, colleagues working on the digital edition had converted “Summer of Freedom” into an eBook format, and registered readers could access it electronically.

【11:25】The prosecution continued to present the content of the special edition. On another page showing protest images, it depicted scenes from the New Town Plaza on July 14, 2019. The prosecution pointed out that on that day, the police suffered severe injuries, with one officer having his finger bitten off. Chan mentioned that the special edition featured a photo of a woman in a red dress carrying a shopping bag walking through protesters and police. She considered it to be a remarkable news photo, not captured in a typical manner, showing a confrontation between protesters and police. She recalled that the photo was not taken by a journalist from Apple Daily, but because she admired it greatly, she mentioned to her colleagues, “This photo is really well taken.”

As for the English version content, Chan stated that she was not involved in the translation process, which was likely handled by external personnel supervised by the executive editor-in-chief, Lam Man-chung. Another page featured images centered around the theme of the “citywide strike.” Chan remembered that at Lai’s request, Cheung Kim hung wrote calligraphy for the banners held by citizens, “something like that.”

【11:16】 The prosecution presented to Chan Pui-man the “Summer of Freedom 2019” special edition published by Apple Daily. The Chinese version was published on September 20, 2019, and reprinted on September 27 of the same year, while the English version was published on October 9. The cover of the English version of the special edition stated, “proceeds after deducting costs will be donated to the 612 humanitarian support fund.” Chan Pui-man mentioned that after Apple Daily first released the special edition, many citizens purchased it, with some places completely sold out. Readers requested additional copies, and the decision to print more was approved by the publisher, Cheung Kim-hung, although she did not remember whether approval from higher-ups, including Jimmy Lai, was sought.

The prosecution pointed out that one page of the Chinese version of the special edition discussed “settling the blood debt with votes 1124,” while the English version had the phrase “punish killers with voters.” Another page depicted several protesters wearing black clothes and protective gear. Chan explained that “1124” referred to the day of the district council elections in that year. As for the images of the protesters, they originated from the internet and were widely circulated at the time. After obtaining consent from the copyright holder, Apple Daily printed them as full-page images. Chan added that sometimes Apple Daily also obtained images from international news agencies.

【11:10】Court session begins.

Ming Pao

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