(HONG KONG) – A pro-democracy website in Hong Kong shut down on Wednesday after police raided its offices and arrested seven current and former editors and board members. administrator and a journalist during an ongoing crackdown on dissent in the semi-autonomous Chinese city.
Stand News said in a statement that its website and social media are no longer being updated and will be taken down. It said all employees were laid off.
This store is one of the last remaining public criticism voices in Hong Kong after shut down Apple Daily newspaper, closed after its publisher, Jimmy Lai, and top editors were arrested and its assets frozen.
Police raided Stand News’ offices earlier the same day after arresting six people, including prominent singer and activist Denise Ho, a former board member, on charges of conspiracy publish an engaging publication.
They also later arrested a seventh person, a former Apple Daily editor who was married to the arrested former Stand News editor.
More than 200 officers were involved in the search, police said. They have warrants for the seizure of related press materials under a national security law enacted last year.
Seven people have been arrested under a crime decree dating back to Hong Kong’s days as a British colony before 1997, when it was returned to China. Those convicted could face up to two years in prison and fines of up to HK$5,000 ($640).
Police did not identify who was arrested, but Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post reported they were a current and a former Stand News editor, and four former board members including Ho and Mr. Former congressman Margaret Ng.
A Facebook post early Wednesday morning on Ho’s account confirmed that she was under arrest. A message was later posted on her behalf saying she was fine and urging her friends and supporters not to worry about her.
That post garnered nearly 40,000 likes and 2,700 comments, mostly from supporters.
Early Wednesday, Stand News posted a video on Facebook of police officers at the home of a deputy editor, Ronson Chan. Chan, who is also the chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, has been taken for questioning, the organization confirmed in a statement.
Chan, who was later released, told the press that police had seized his electronic devices, bank cards and press cards.
The arrest comes as authorities crack down on dissent in the semi-autonomous Chinese city. Hong Kong police earlier raided the offices of the now defunct Apple Daily, seizing boxes of documents and computer hard drives to aid in the investigation and freezing millions of assets, then forcing the must stop working.
Police charged Apple Daily’s Lai, who was jailed on other charges, with charges on Tuesday.
“We are not targeting reporters, we are not targeting the media, we are only targeting violations of national security,” said Li Kwai-wah, senior director of the National Security Bureau. . “If you’re just reporting, I don’t think this is a problem.”
He said at a news conference that those arrested must be held accountable for their actions even after they have resigned from Stand News.
When asked what advice he has for the media, Li replied: “Don’t be biased. You know well how to report, how to be a responsible reporter, how to make an unbiased report for your readers. That’s all I can give you.”
Stand News earlier this year said it would suspend subscriptions and remove most comment sections and columns from its website due to national security laws. Six board members have also resigned from the company.
The Association of Journalists called on the city government to protect press freedom under Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law.
“The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) is deeply concerned that the police have repeatedly arrested senior members of the media and searched the offices of press organizations containing large quantities of journalistic materials. within a year,” it said in a statement.
Benedict Rogers, co-founder and CEO of NGO Hong Kong Watch, said the arrests were “nothing different from an all-out assault on press freedom in Hong Kong. ”
“When a free press guaranteed by Hong Kong’s Basic Law is labeled ‘ambitious’, it is a symbol of the speed with which this amazing, open, cosmopolitan city has achieved,” he said. become a state of being nothing more than a policeman.”
Wednesday’s arrest also follows the removal of sculptures and other works of art from the university campus last week. Pro-democracy buildings and memorials for victims of China’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters at Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 1989.
https://time.com/6132069/stand-news-hong-kong-shut-down/ Hong Kong pro-democracy news website shuts down after police raid and arrest