Hong Kong’s nationwide safety police have raided the workplaces of a number one pro-democracy information outlet and arrested six folks, together with senior journalists, extending a crackdown on media and opposition activists within the metropolis.
Greater than 200 officers descended on Wednesday morning on the workplaces of Stand Information, an unbiased information website recognized for its vital protection of presidency insurance policies. Present and former senior executives have been arrested for alleged “conspiracy to publish seditious publication” beneath British colonial-era legal guidelines, in response to police.
The people included Chung Pui-kuen, the outlet’s former prime editor who resigned final month, and appearing editor Patrick Lam, in response to an individual acquainted with the matter and native media.
The raid got here six months after Apple Every day, the pro-democracy newspaper, was compelled to shut when authorities froze its property and arrested a variety of senior journalists. Jimmy Lai, the corporate’s founder who’s in jail in relation to separate allegations, and 6 former senior staff of Apple Every day have been additionally charged with seditious publication on Tuesday.
Dozens of opposition activists have fled town or been arrested after Beijing imposed a sweeping nationwide safety legislation that got here into impact final 12 months in response to pro-democracy protests the engulfed town in 2019.
Plenty of high-profile journalists have been arrested over the previous two years, and overseas reporters have been denied visas to work within the territory.
Critics stated the newest strikes threatened press freedom within the metropolis, regardless of pledges by Beijing to guard the media and free speech for 50 years following Hong Kong’s handover from British to Chinese language sovereignty in 1997.
“The arrests, taking place simply earlier than the brand new 12 months, have despatched a powerful sign,” stated Grace Leung, a lecturer on the Chinese language College of Hong Kong who specialises in media regulation and insurance policies.
“It additional [extends the] chilling impact . . . with many [journalists] already feeling unease,” she added. “Different media shops should still be persevering with to do their jobs, however nobody is aware of when they are going to be focused subsequent and there appears to be no strategy to stop that from taking place.”
In accordance with a police assertion, officers used a search warrant beneath the nationwide safety legislation that allowed them to go looking and seize journalistic supplies in the course of the raid.
Ronson Chan, a senior editor at Stand Information and chair of the Hong Kong Journalists Affiliation, was taken by police from his residence, in response to the information website. The report didn’t say whether or not he had been arrested.
Chris Tang, town’s safety secretary, publicly criticised Stand Information this month, saying its protection of the federal government was “biased, deceptive and demonising”.
Stand Information was nominated this 12 months for a press freedom award given by Reporters With out Borders, the Paris-based media rights group introduced final month.
RSF warned in its newest report that Hong Kong was in “free fall” beneath the nationwide safety legislation, whereas officers have been contemplating proposals for a “faux information” legislation that many fear will additional curb tolerance of vital reporting.