Home LATEST NEWS Hong Kong: online media shut down after wave of arrests

Hong Kong: online media shut down after wave of arrests

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The crackdown comes as the international community worries about the relentless recovery in hand in Hong Kong since the 2019 democracy protests.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) denounced an open attack on Hong Kong’s already ragged press freedom and Amnesty International accused the authorities to use the Hong Kong legislation.

Hong Kong National Security Police Chief Steve Li said News stand was accused of posting articles and blog posts seditious between July 2020 and November 2021.

They described protesters in Hong Kong as missing or raped… These are vicious allegations without any factual basis, said Mr. Li.

He denied that the police attack the media, assuring that publications writing unbiased articles would not have any problems.

A large-scale police operation

At midday on Wednesday, police were seen pulling out boxes of News stand. Computers, phones, documents and 500,000 Hong Kong dollars (56,856 euros) in cash were seized, Li said.

In addition, HKD 61 million in assets belonging to News stand were frozen, he added.

More than 200 officers raided the headquarters of News stand and at the homes of several of its employees.

An AFP reporter saw the publication’s editor-in-chief, Patrick Lam, driven in handcuffs inside the offices of News stand.

Police officers in front of the Stand News website headquarters

Police officers outside the headquarters of the Stand News website.

Photo: AP / Vincent Yu

According to local media, police also arrested ex-editor Chung Pui-kuen and four ex-board members who resigned in June, including Cantonese pop star Denise Ho, the lawyer and former member of the Hong Kong Legislative Council Margaret Ng as well as the former journalist of theApple Daily Chan Pui-man, wife of Mr. Chung.

Mr. Li did not rule out further arrests, as some wanted people were not in Hong Kong territory.

The Deputy Editor-in-Chief of News standRonson Chan, also president of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, said his home was searched and computer equipment was seized. But he was not arrested.

News stand, offline

Because of the current situation, News stand will cease its activity immediately and will stop updating its site (Internet) and all its social networks, the publication announced.

News stand also said that all its staff had been made redundant, that its editor-in-chief Patrick Lam had resigned and that the website would be taken offline soon.

News stand was editorial independent and dedicated to protecting core Hong Kong values ​​such as democracy, human rights, liberty, the rule of law and justice, continued the media, created in 2014 and selected in November for the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Press Freedom Prize.

But John Lee, deputy Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam, said those arrested were evil elements […] abusing their functions […] media workers.

Patrick Lam, the boss of Stand News, in the foreground.

Patrick Lam, the boss of Stand News, in the foreground.

Photo: AP / Vincent Yu

During the 2019 protests, several journalists from News stand had had trouble with the police.

In a famous episode, one of his reporters had filmed live the ultraviolet attack carried out by a group of masked individuals against demonstrators for democracy in a metro station, continuing to film as the attackers attacked she.

News stand has been the target in recent months of sharp criticism from the authorities. It is the second local media silenced by the authorities.

In June, the newspaper defending democracy Apple Daily had closed after its assets were frozen and its top executives were arrested under a drastic new national security law imposed by Beijing in July 2020.

Wave of criticism

Several Hong Kong opponents who fled abroad condemned Wednesday’s arrests.

The Chinese Communist Party continues to prosecute journalists and media who dare to contradict it and tell the truth, tweeted opponent Nathan Law, in exile in the United Kingdom.

News stand represents one of the last vestiges of independent journalism in Hong Kong and we are not sure it can survive this crackdown, said Brian Leung, a representative of the Hong Kong Democracy Council movement, headquartered in the United States.

Journalists.

Journalists came to immortalize the search of the newspaper Stand News.

Photo: AP / Vincent Yu

The Hong Kong Journalists Association and the Foreign Correspondent Club, which represent local and foreign journalists respectively, said they were deeply concerned.

European Union diplomacy spokesman Peter Stano denounced a further deterioration of press freedom in Hong Kong.

Those searches […] show once again that the National Security Law and other provisions are applied arbitrarily and selectively to fight against critical voices, estimated the German Foreign Ministry.

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