Hong Kong: police detain seven journalists linked to Stand News after raiding newsroom
The NUJ joined the International Federation of Journalists in strongly condemning the authorities' crackdown the city's independent media and called for the immediate release of all those detained.
On December 29, Hong Kong police raided the newsroom of the pro-democracy online news outlet, Stand News, and arrested a total of seven journalists over “seditious publication.”
More than 200 officers from Hong Kong’s National Security Department were deployed to search and seize information at Stand News’ newsroom in Kwun Tong with a warrant issued under the National Security Law.
Police reported that six people related to the publication were arrested over “conspiracy to publish seditious publication” according to Section 9 and 10 of the Crimes Ordinance.
According to local media reports, those arrested included former chief editor Chung Pui-kuen, acting chief rditor Patrick Lam, as well as four former directors -- Chow Tat-chi, Denise Ho, Margaret Ng, and Christine Fang.
Later the same day, the Hong Kong police stated that another person was arrested on the same charge and that further arrests might be made as the investigation continued. The person was identified by local media as Chan Pui-man, former associate publisher of the now-defunct pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily. Chan, who is being detained over a charge related to collusion with a foreign element, was reportedly arrested because of her previous involvement with Stand News.
According to the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA), Ronson Chan, the organisation’s chairman and deputy assignment editor for Stand News, was also taken away by authorities as part of the operation.
The HKJA said that it “was deeply concerned that the police have repeatedly arrested senior members of the media and searched the offices of news organizations containing large quantities of journalistic materials within a year”.
Following the police operation, Stand News announced its closure, drawing an end to seven years of independent journalism in the city. The outlet ceased operations effective immediately and laid off all its employees. Stand News’ assets totalling HK$61 million (US$7.82 million) were also frozen by the authorities.
The closure of Stand News follows that of Apple Daily, which was forced to close in June of this year after police raided its newsroom, froze its assets and detained seven of its executives and senior staff on national security grounds.
The IFJ said:
“Freedom of the press is enshrined in the Hong Kong’s Basic Law. After the National Security Law was imposed by Beijing in the city in June 2020, Hong Kong authorities have increasingly targeted members of the press in an apparent attempt to crush critical voices. The IFJ calls for the immediate release of the seven journalists and calls on the Hong Kong government to immediately cease its prosecution against media organisations and their employees.”