Police raided the Hong Kong office of an online pro-democracy organization and detained six board members and editors. The arrests were part of a wider crackdown against dissent in this Chinese semi-autonomous city.
Stand News stated in a statement, that the website and social media of its company are not being updated anymore and would be removed. All employees were dismissed, it said.
After the closure of Hong Kong’s Apple Daily newspaper in September, Jimmy Lai and other top editors were detained and assets frozen, the outlet was among the few remaining critics.
Police in Hong Kong arrest Patrick Lam (center), Editor at Stand News today as part of a crackdown upon dissent
Six police officers were arrested in raid on pro-democracy media outlets.
After arresting six people, including Denise Ho (a popular activist and singer), on conspiracy to publish an seditious publication, police raided Stand News’ offices earlier in the day.
Police said that more than 200 officers participated in the search. Police said they had an order to seize journalistic materials pursuant to a law of national security last year.
These six men were detained under a crime order that was in effect since Hong Kong’s British colonial days before 1997 when it was returned from China.
Those convicted could face up to two years in prison and a fine of up to 5,000 Hong Kong dollars (£480).
The police didn’t identify the person who was taken into custody, however, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post newspaper stated that one of Stand News’ editors and four other board members were arrested. This included Ho as well as Margaret Ng (ex-lawmaker).
Stand News stated in a statement, that their website and social media were no longer updated. They will be removed
Ho posted on Facebook Wednesday morning that Ho was arrested.
The message she left behind said that she is fine, and asked her supporters and friends not to be concerned about her.
This post received nearly 40,000 hits and almost 2,700 comments, mainly from supporters.
Stand News shared a Facebook video Wednesday morning of Ronson Chan’s deputy editor and police officers.
Chan was also the chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association. This organization stated in a statement that Chan was taken to be interrogated.
Chan later spoke out to media about being taken into custody by the police.
These arrests are part of a crackdown by authorities on any dissent within the semi-autonomous Chinese capital.
Police had a warrant to seize relevant journalistic materials under a national security law enacted last year
Hong Kong police had previously searched the offices of Apple Daily, a newspaper that has since been closed down. The officers took boxes of material and computers hard drives in order to help in their investigations. Later they were forced to close the paper’s doors.
Lai from Apple Daily, already being held on various charges, was charged with sedition by police on Tuesday.
Li Kwaiwah (senior superintendent, police National Security Department) stated, ‘We’re not going after reporters. We’re not attacking the media. This is not a problem if you just report.
At a news conference, he said that anyone arrested for questioning their actions had to be held accountable even if the person had resigned at Stand News.
Denise Ho was a well-known activist and singer who was a board member. She was charged with conspiracy to print a seditious newspaper
Li responded to a question about his advice for media: “Don’t be bias.” It is easy to know how to write, be responsible, and give unbiased reports to readers. This is all that I have to offer.
Stand News announced earlier in the year that it will suspend subscriptions to its site and take down most of its opinion columns due to the National Security Law. The company also lost six board members.
Journalists’ Association urged Hong Kong government to uphold press freedom according to Hong Kong’s Basic Law.
“The Hong Kong Journalists Association” (HKJA), expressed deep concern that police had repeatedly detained senior journalists and searched offices of news agencies containing large amounts of journalistic material within a short time.
Benedict Rogers was co-founder and chief executive officer of Hong Kong Watch.
He said that if a Hong Kong Basic Law guarantees a free press, it’s a sign of how fast this once open and international city is becoming a police state.
The removal of artwork and sculptures from universities campuses this week led to Wednesday’s arrests. These works were memorialized as a support for democracy, and as a way to remember the Tiananmen Square protestors in Beijing that China cracked down on in 1989.