Hong Kong: Former Apple Daily wins Golden Pen for press freedom
Steph Deschamps / December 2, 2021
Imprisoned Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai and the staff of his now-closed pro-democracy daily Apple Daily have been awarded the Golden Pen, a prestigious press freedom award from the World Association of Newspapers and Publishers (Wan-Ifra).
Mr. Lai and several other executives of Apple Daily, a fiercely pro-democracy tabloid that is highly critical of Beijing, were arrested last spring on charges of colluding with foreign forces that endanger national security. The authorities accused the newspaper, which had to close in June after its assets were frozen, of having called for international sanctions against Hong Kong. The Golden Feather has been awarded annually since 1961 to important defenders and promoters of press freedom. The awarding of the trophy to Mr. Lai and his team illustrates the fears and challenges facing journalists in Hong Kong today, said Warren Fernandez, president of the World Editors Forum. The incarceration of a managing editor, the arrest of an editor and his colleagues, the closure of a newsroom and the end of a news title: the 2021 Golden Pen Award recognizes and makes people think about all of this, Fernandez said at the virtual award ceremony Wednesday.
The Basic Law - Hong Kong's mini-constitution in force since the handover in 1997 - in principle guarantees freedom of expression in the former British colony. But a draconian national security law, imposed by Beijing in June 2020 after massive pro-democracy protests the previous year, has raised fears for press freedom in the once semi-autonomous territory. Fewer and fewer people will shine the light in these dark corners, said Sebastian Lai, Jimmy Lai's son, upon receiving the award for his father.