Stand News: Pro-democracy news outlet shuts down after Hong Kong police raid and arrest six including Denise Ho

The independent news website introduced on its Facebook page that it has ceased operations and dismissed all staff members, effective promptly. The statement explained that Stand Information will promptly halt updating its web site and social media accounts, which will be removed in just days.

At a information conference Wednesday afternoon, Steve Li Kwai-wah, senior superintendent of the Hong Kong police’s National Protection Division, stated that the arrests were connected to many “seditious” content released by the outlet between July 2020 and November 2021.

Li also mentioned that law enforcement raided the information outlet’s business in the city’s Kwun Tong area, and froze about 61 million Hong Kong pounds ($7.8 million) really worth of assets from the company.

Some 200 law enforcement officers were being involved in the newsroom raid, exactly where they seized journalistic resources, according to a government assertion previously Wednesday.

The arrests bundled Ho and Margaret Ng, a former pro-democracy lawmaker and prominent barristerr — both of those former customers of the information outlet’s board of directors. Also arrested have been previous Stand Information chief editor Chung Pui-kuen and performing chief editor Patrick Lam, according to the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA).

Although an original governing administration notice produced Wednesday referenced a “conspiracy to publish seditious publications” — allegations that stem from a colonial-period crimes ordinance — the law enforcement concerned with the Stand Information situation are countrywide stability officers.

A turbulent 12 months for the press

The arrests appear at the finish of a turbulent yr for push freedoms in Hong Kong, which dubs by itself “Asia’s Globe Metropolis” and after prided by itself on currently being the region’s preeminent intercontinental media hub.

The city’s at the time lively media landscape has withered since Beijing imposed a sweeping Nationwide Stability Law on the metropolis in 2020, which led to the shuttering of the fiercely outspoken pro-democracy outlet Apple Everyday before this year.

“The Hong Kong Journalists Association is deeply anxious that the law enforcement have consistently arrested senior customers of the media and searched the places of work of news organizations containing huge quantities of journalistic resources in a year,” the HKJA reported in a assertion Wednesday, incorporating that it urged the government to “to secure push freedom in accordance with the Primary Legislation,” the city’s de facto constitution because 1997.

Ronson Chan Ron-sing, the deputy assignment editor of Stand News and the chairman of HKJA, was also “taken away by the law enforcement,” in accordance to the association.

Stand News experienced posted a online video of police arriving at Chan’s home for a raid earlier on Wednesday morning. Chan afterwards informed community media in Hong Kong that he experienced not been arrested.

Denise Ho, testifies during a Congressional-Executive Commission hearing on China, September 17, 2019.

Ho, the Cantonese pop star and popular professional-democracy activist, was arrested at her household at 6 a.m. Wednesday, in accordance to her assistant, who questioned not to be named.

Police put in above two hrs at the singer’s property and seized telephones and pcs as nicely as her ID card and passport, her assistant informed CNN Business.

At the Stand News place of work on Wednesday, police collected about 30 containers of “proof,” a push officer for the law enforcement at the site instructed CNN Business.

Hong Kong authorities defended Wednesday’s arrests as needed to prevent “terrible apples” from falsely symbolizing on their own as media.

“Any individual who tries to make use of media perform as a resource to go after their political function or other fascination contravenes the regulation, particularly offenses that endanger countrywide security,” Hong Kong Main Secretary John Lee explained when asked by reporters about the arrests at an unrelated press celebration.

“They are the evil things that harm push flexibility. Expert media personnel ought to understand that these are the poor apples who are abusing their position basically by wearing a phony coat of media worker,” Lee included.

‘The stakes are high’

The HKJA has continued to talk out in defense of press flexibility, regardless of struggling with criticism from Hong Kong officers and Chinese state media.

The most up-to-date police actions arrived hrs following the HKJA hosted its once-a-year evening meal on Tuesday, which experienced been delayed for far more than a year owing to coronavirus limitations.

“We know that the stakes are large, but push flexibility has been the backbone of Hong Kong’s achievements,” Chan claimed in a speech at the evening meal. “Hong Kong will often want the fact as properly as journalists. No make any difference how challenging the road in advance will be, the association will try to never ever are unsuccessful.”

Police officers stand guard during a raid at the Stand News office in Hong Kong.
Launched after pupil-led demonstrations in Hong Kong in 2014, Stand Information rose to prominence all through the city’s pro-democracy protests in 2019 with its breaking information protection and crucial editorials and view pieces.

It was thought of to be amongst the city’s most outspoken shops, often publishing difficult-hitting reports — even following the enactment of the National Security Law.

It is the 2nd independent media outlet focused by national protection officers, right after Apple Day-to-day, which was shut down in June after hundreds of police officers raided its business, arrested executives and froze its assets underneath nationwide protection costs.

The raids on Stand Information also come just one day just after jailed Apple Every day founder Jimmy Lai was strike with a demand of conspiracy to print, publish and distribute seditious publications, the same charge as what authorities are now accusing the Stand Information affiliates of.

Lai was sentenced to 13 months in prison this month for inciting and taking part in the city’s yearly candlelight vigil to commemorate the Tiananmen Square crackdown very last 12 months. Authorities experienced declared that assembly illegal, owing to coronavirus restrictions. Lai was by now serving time in prison for other costs.

A ‘shockwave by way of Hong Kong’

Talking at the HKJA’s annual meal Tuesday, Chan described the arrest of Lai and his colleagues and the subsequent shuttering of the Apple Every day as a “shockwave in the course of Hong Kong” which “had a significant effect on news personnel who are nonetheless battling in the frontline just about every day.”

Chan also acknowledged the escalating issues for the HKJA to fill the positions at its government committee, due to issues about their particular protection and occupation potential clients.

“In simple fact, the posture of vice-chairperson is even now vacant and will keep on being so until November. It shows that many colleagues perceive that getting an HKJA govt committee member could make one’s life precarious,” Chan reported.

Hong Kong's biggest pro-democracy newspaper closes as Beijing tightens its grip

In a statement Wednesday, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Hong Kong claimed it was “deeply worried” over the arrests associated with Stand News.

“These steps are a even more blow to press liberty in Hong Kong and will continue on to chill the media ecosystem in the town next a tricky 12 months for the city’s news shops,” it said.

The Nationwide Security Law, which was drafted in Beijing and promulgated in Hong Kong very last yr, criminalized functions of secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with international forces to endanger countrywide stability — with a highest sentence of existence imprisonment for all four.

Due to the fact the law’s enactment, the city’s pro-democracy camp has been almost wiped out, with notable figures either in jail or in exile overseas. A sequence of civil groups have disbanded, and additional a short while ago, several universities have eradicated statues advertising democracy or commemorating the Tiananmen Sq. massacre overnight, sparking worries about freedoms on campuses.

The Hong Kong govt has consistently denied criticism that the law has stifled freedoms, proclaiming rather that it has restored get in the metropolis following the 2019 protest movement.

Minnie Arwood

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