Hong Kong: two members of the pro-democracy media “Stand News” charged with “sedition”

China continues to keep pace with Hong Kong and the oppositions. Thursday, December 30, two of those arrested the day before during the police operation against the pro-democracy information site Stand News were charged with “Conspiracy to carry out a seditious publication”.

According to court documents, they are editor-in-chief Patrick Lam and his predecessor, Chung Pui-kuen, who were arrested on Wednesday along with five other people linked to Stand News.

Besides MM. Lam and Chung, a former journalist and four former members of the news site’s board were arrested, including Cantonese pop star Denise Ho and lawyer and former Hong Kong Legislative Council member Margaret Ng. They “Remain held for further investigation”, the national security police said. The site’s publisher, Best Pencil, is also being prosecuted on the same charges.

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“Seditious publication”

Online media Stand News, founded in 2014 and very active during the major anti-government protests in Hong Kong in 2019, announced on Wednesday that it was closing and laying off all its employees, with its assets now frozen by the authorities. The news site, which was raided the same day by more than 200 police officers, is accused of posting articles and blog posts “Seditious” in the form of“Harmful allegations without any factual basis” between July 2020 and November 2021.

This police operation comes as the international community worries about the relentless recovery in hand in Hong Kong since the 2019 pro-democracy protests.

“Journalism is not sedition, reacted in particular the American Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, Wednesday. By silencing independent media, China and local authorities are undermining Hong Kong’s credibility and viability. Authorities who are confident in themselves and not afraid of the truth welcome the free press. We call on China and the Hong Kong authorities to (…) release journalists and media officials who have been wrongfully detained and charged ”, he added.

European Union diplomacy spokesman Peter Stano, for his part, denounced a “Further deterioration of press freedom” in Hong Kong. Canada also condemned the arrests.

The Hong Kong chief executive, Carrie Lam, close to the Chinese government, responded to them on Thursday, saying she shared the idea that the “Journalism is not sedition”. At the same time, she ensured that seditious acts ” born [pouvaient] be tolerated under the pretext of reporting ”. That “Has nothing to do with the so-called crackdown on press freedom or democracy, as some claim”.

The Chinese central government liaison office in Hong Kong also said the arrests were “A way to make sure that ‘the bad guys get what they deserve” and that [cela n’avait] nothing to do with freedom of the press ”.

Takeover

Stand News is the second Hong Kong media silenced by the authorities. In June, the pro-democracy journal Apple Daily had closed following the freezing of its assets and the arrest of its executives.

Also read: Article reserved for our subscribers Farewell to the “Apple Daily”, an opposition newspaper closed by the authorities

The former British colony has long been considered, due to its great autonomy from Beijing, as an Asian bastion of press freedom and is still home to the regional headquarters of major international media. But the climate for the press has deteriorated considerably since the popular mobilization of 2019. A draconian national security law, imposed by Beijing and entered into force in 2020, has become the main instrument of repression against dissent.

Since then, Hong Kong has steadily plummeted in the world press freedom ranking published each year by Reporters Without Borders, dropping from 18e place in 2002 at the 80e This year.

The World with AFP

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Hong Kong: two members of the pro-democracy media “Stand News” charged with “sedition”

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