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Day 7: January 8, 2024

Ming Pao: Admitted facts include Jimmy Lai’s emails with former U.S. officials

“Next Media” founder Jimmy Lai and three companies of “Apple Daily” were accused of colluding with foreign forces. The trial entered the seventh day of the High Court today (January 8). The prosecution today began to read out a 61-page of undisputed facts, detailing the email communications that police found on Jimmy Lai’s cell phone with his assistant Mark Simon, former US Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Walfowitz, former US Army Deputy Chief of Staff Jack Keene and others. The prosecution was expected to finish the reading this afternoon, and the defense will apply to request that all the footage involved in the case be played in court, which is expected to take six days.

Jimmy Lai appeared in court in a brown leather jacket, smiling, nodding and waving to his relatives and friends. Lai’s wife, three children, and his daughter-in-law, former news anchor Carman Tsang, all attended the court. Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, Father Robert Sirico, and political cartoonist Zunzi also attended the court.

Judge Esther Toh Lye-ping said that she received a letter from the defense yesterday stating that senior defense counsel Robert Pang will be absent from the trial for the next two weeks due to personal matters. However, the defense believed that the prosecution could continue to read out the undisputed facts without his presence. Defense barrister Steve Kwan added in court that New Zealand King’s Counsel Marc Corlett will make a joint submission on behalf of the defendants and asked all the clips involved in the case to be played in court. It is expected that it will take 6 days to play all the clips. If Pang is still unable to attend by then, the defense will apply for adjournment for up to three days, after which the hearing will continue with or without Pang. Judge Alex Lee questioned why the video needs to be shown. Kwan explained that the clips can be used for reference by the court and the public. He adds that the clips that have been played by the prosecution only account for a small part, and they hope that the court will refer to the entire video.

On behalf of the prosecution, Assistant Director of Public Prosecution Ivan Cheung Cheuk-kan of the Department of Justice read out 61 pages of undisputed facts, describing that Apple Daily was registered as a local newspaper in January 1995. Apple Daily Limited was the registered proprietor and publisher, and Apple Daily Printing Company was the registered Printer. Chan Pui-man, Ryan Law Wai-kwong, Cheung Kim-hung, Yeung Ching-kee, Fung Wai-kong, and Lam Man-chung were arrested successively from June to July 2021. The police seized each person’s mobile phone. The WhatsApp records of Yeung and Law showed that during the conversation, the two sent an article “One country, two systems, Hong Kong is looking at what Taiwan is doing”. Yeung once had a conversation with veteran media person Allan Au and the late current affairs commentator Lee Yee. Police also found a document entitled “”Apple Daily Under Pressure. Slight Change of Direction.” The content of the document was not read out in court.

Ming Pao

The Witness: Live updates | Seventh day of Jimmy Lai’s trial Undisputed facts: police found email records between Lai and former US deputy secretary on Lai’s phone

Next Media founder Jimmy Lai and three companies related to “Apple Daily” were charged with “conspiracy to collude with foreign forces” and other crimes. The case entered the seventh day of the trial at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts (Provisional High Court) on Monday (January 8), the prosecution’s Assistant Director of Public Prosecution Ivan Cheung Cheuk-kan read out the undisputed facts.

Cheung pointed out that Apple Daily printed more than 78 million copies between 2019 and 2021 when the case occurred. Cheung also said that the police searched the records of WhatsApp and other message groups on Yeung Ching-kee and Chan Pui-man’s mobile phones. Police also found emails with a former US Deputy Secretary of Defense, an editor of the Wall Street Journal, and a then senior adviser to the US State Department on Jimmy Lai’s phone.

“The Witness” also synthesized the prosecution’s opening statements for three consecutive days last week. The prosecution accused Jimmy Lai of using “Apple Daily” as a platform to conspire with company executives to publish 161 seditious publications, including reports, advertisements, Lai’s own columns, etc., calling for people to take to the streets, advocating hatred for the regime, and requesting foreign sanctions. They also accused Lai of directing the launch of the news outlet’s English version and asked colleagues “not to target Trump.” In addition, the prosecution also accused Lai of being a “radical political figure” who contacted politicians from many countries to promote sanctions.

As for the charges involving the “SWHK Team”, the prosecution alleged that Lai was the mastermind and financial backer behind the team, and paid in advance HK$5.1 million in newspaper advertisement fees. Through the instruction of Chan Tsz-wah, Lai instructed Andy Lee, Finn Lau and others to organize a “global newspaper campaign” to request foreign countries to put pressure on China.

15:23 adjournment
The case will resume tomorrow morning.

15:04 The prosecution plans to call 15 witnesses

After Cheung finished reading the undisputed facts, New Zealand lawyer Marc Corlett, who is representing Jimmy Lai, applied for the prosecution to play the full clips involved in the case in court. Anthony Chau Tin-hang, deputy director of public prosecution, said that the 24 videos are 35 hours long in total. The judges postponed the ruling on this matter and asked the prosecution and defense to reach an agreement on how to play videos.

Anthony Chau also mentioned that the prosecution witness list has been reduced to 14 people, of which 7 will appear in court to testify, including 5 “accomplice witnesses”, Royston Chow Tat-kuen, as well as expert witnesses Wang Guiguo, husband of Legislative Council member Priscilla Leung, and chair professor of Chinese law and comparative law at City University. The remaining police witnesses and one PhD. witness who surnamed Chow (鄒) will testify in writing. It is believed that the witness is Dr. Chow Kampui, associate professor of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Hong Kong. He will testify about the social media-related information involved in the case.

Chau continued to point out that the prosecution summoned 8 more people for cross-examination by the defense. In other words, a total of 15 people will appear in court to testify.

14:55 Undisputed facts: Andy Li was carrying “SWHK” cards

Prosecutor Ivan Cheung read out the details of the undisputed facts about the “SWHK Team” in court, including that they found a phone, two computers, and a box of cards with “Hong Kong Story,” “Hong Kong People,” “Andy Li,” “Liberty,” “Justice,” and “Hong Kong”; three t-shirts with “SWHK” print, 17 cards with the letters “SWHK,” and a company “Hong Kong Story Co. Ltd.” seal on Andy Li when he was arrested.

Chan Tsz-wah was arrested in October 2020 and released on police bail in the same month. He was arrested and charged again in February 2021. Prosecutor Cheung also pointed out that according to the email records ofRoyston Chow Tat-kuen, the then CEO and chief financial officer of Next Media, Finn Lau and Mark Simon left Hong Kong on January 5 and April 18, 2020 respectively.

According to entry and exit records, Lai left Hong Kong for Taiwan on January 10, 2020, and returned to Hong Kong on the 15th of the same month. Chan Tsz-wah left Hong Kong for Taiwan on January 10 and returned to Hong Kong on the 13th of the same month.

14:43 Court began

12:50 Lunch break

Jimmy Lai’s wife, son Lai Gin Yan, daughter-in-law Carman Tsang and others walked out of the court one after another.

12:01 Undisputed facts: Police found email records between Lai and former U.S. deputy secretary of defense on Lai’s phone

Prosecutor Cheung continued to read out the information found by the police. For example, in Fung Wai-kong’s computer, he found the “Focus group” (鋤報會) meeting minutes, a document titled “ May 2021 writers’ fees. International breaking news.” In addition, they’ve also found a document related to Jimmy Lai and his Taiwan branch on Lai’s secretary’s desk.
Cheung continued that after Jimmy Lai was arrested in August 2020, the police seized his phone and found his email contact records, including former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, former U.S. Army Deputy Chief of Staff Jack Keane, and editor of the Wall Street Journal Bill McGurn, then senior adviser to the US State Department Christian Whiton and his assistant Mark Simon, etc. After Lai was arrested, police recorded these meeting records, which Cheung said would be played afterwards.

12:01 Court started

11:24 adjournment

11:20 Undisputed facts: Police searched Yeung Ching-kee and Chan Pui-man’s phone records

Prosecutor Ivan Cheung mentioned that when the police searched for evidence, they found that there were conversations with writer Lee Yee and veteran media commentator Allan Au on Yeung Ching-kee’s phone. He was the chief writer for Apple Daily. His WhatsApp and Signal messaging apps also had a group named “National Security Law Response Committee,” containing communication records from January 4 to June 17, 2021.

As of June 17, members of the group included then-executive editor-in-chief Lam Man-chung, then-executive editor-in-chief of the English version Fung Wai-kwong, then deputy editor-in-chief Jeung Mai-hung (蔣美紅), and others. On the same day, Lam Man-chung removed Cheung Kim-hung, Ryan Law Wai-kwong, Chan Pui-man, and former animated news platform director Cheung Chi-wai from the group.

After Chen Pui-man was arrested, police searched her phone and found that there was a group called “English News” in her WhatsApp records, with members including “Mr. Lai”, Ryan Law Wai-kwong,”Nick”, Jeung Mai-hung, Cheung Kim-hung and a Taiwanese phone number. She also has contacts with Lai’s assistant Mark Simon, Benedict Rogers of the human rights organization “Hong Kong Watch” and others.

11:00 Undisputed facts: Apple Daily printed more than 78 million copies during the time of the crime

Ivan Cheung read out the background information of “Apple Daily”, saying that “Apple Daily” was first registered as a local newspaper on January 27, 1995, and “Apple Daily Co., Ltd.” was the registered proprietor and publisher; “Apple Daily Printing Co., Ltd. Company” is the registered printer; “Apple Daily Internet Co., Ltd.” has been the owner of the domain name “” since June 2011.

Ivan Cheung continued to point out that from August 2016 to June 24, 2021, Cheung Kim-hung was the registered proprietor and publisher representative, Chan Puiman was a registered editor of “Apple Daily” from March 2015 to June 2017, and Ryan Law Wai-kwong was also a registered editor of “Apple Daily” from July 2017 to June 2021.

During the time of the crime, that is, from April 1, 2019, to the day of suspension of publication on June 24, 2021, more than 78 million physical copies were printed, of which 1 million were issued on the day of Apple Daily’s suspension. “Apple Daily” also published Chinese content online. In May 2020, it launched the English version and published the article “’Going International’ Free Trial of the English Version of ‘Apple Daily’”.

10:20 The prosecution prepared to read out the undisputed facts

At the beginning of the trial, Judge Esther Toh stated that the prosecution would read out the undisputed facts. Senior barrister Robert Pang Yiu-hung, who represented Jimmy Lai, was absent from today’s hearing and will also be absent in the next two weeks. Lai will be represented by barrister Steven Kwan. Steven Kwan said that after the defense jointly applies to process the undisputed facts, the defendants would be playing relevant video clips in court and they expected it to take up to 6 days while the prosecution estimates that it will take 4.5 days to play all the clips. The defense also hopes to adjourn the case for no more than three days until Robert Pang returns to the court.

Judge Esther Toh asked about the reason for playing the clips. Steven Kwan replied that while some of the video clips were played at the opening statement, the defense hoped the judges could watch the clips in full for “bigger context”.

10:10 court session

10:00 Jimmy Lai entered the court

Jimmy Lai walked into the defendant’s dock wearing a brown leather jacket and smiled at relatives and friends in the public gallery from time to time.

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