Hundreds of Hong Kong national security police officers raided the offices of online pro-democracy news outlet Stand News, arresting six people, early on Wednesday, Dec. 29th. According to the police, the journalists homes were also searched. The reason behind was “conspiracy to publish seditious publications.”
, including deputy editor Ronson Chan, the Association’s chairman. Chung Pui-Kuen, former editor-in-chief of the Hong Kong Journalists Association.
Three men and three women, ranging from 34 to 73 years old, were detained. Hong Kong activists, including pop singer Denise Ho and lawyer Margaret Ng, who both served on the board of the Stand News, were jailed.
Editor-in-chief Patrick Lam Shiu-tung, and former chief editor—who stepped down last month—Chung Pui-Kuen were also among the arrested. Lam, according to sources, resigned right away.
According to HKFP, at least four Stand News personnel have been investigated by police, including Chan and editor Kenny Leung.
Chan was filmed being taken away by five national security police officers to "assist in investigations." Chan said in the video that his home was raided and he was to be taken to other locations for police searches. https://t.co/Fd798Glect pic.twitter.com/AGqcGI0Mqn— Hong Kong Free Press HKFP (@hkfp) December 29, 2021
Chow Tat-chi, former director and editor-in-chief of the scientific section, were arrested, according to local media.
Chung’s wife, Chan Pui-man, former publishing associate at the now-defunct Apple Daily, was also arrested on a similar accusation at the Tai Lam Correctional Institution about 8 a.m. this morning.
After Apple Daily—forced to close in June after authorities shut down its assets under a national security statute imposed by Beijing—Stand News is the second Hong Kong media company targeted by the CCP regime using the National Security Law.
A community poll earlier this year led to the closure of Apple Daily tycoon Jimmy Lai’s popular tabloid. In November, Stand News was nominated in the “independent” category at the press freedom awards by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
Stand News was the only Hong Kong media outlet to collaborate with the International Association of Investigative Journalists to report the leaked Pandora Papers, released in October 2021. Thanks to leaks, some of the world’s wealthiest and most influential people’s tax structures have been revealed.
Hong Kong security chief attacked the media for “biased” coverage of the city’s new smart prison system earlier this month.
Cedric Alviani, the RSF’s East Asia Office director, said the raids and arrests were “certainly an attack on press freedom.”
He said, “with Stand News, one can clearly see that the Hong Kong executive’s goal is to get rid of all media that doesn’t support the official narrative in order to bring Hong Kong down to the level of repression and censorship that is equivalent to mainland China.
“When you arrest a team of journalists from a media outlet with a reputation for independence, no one can say it’s for another purpose other than to try and muzzle the media and try to control the narrative on the territory.”
The raid heightened worries about freedom of expression and the media in the former British colony, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997 with the promise of better protection for individual rights.
However, Chinese authorities dismantled Hong Kong’s former democratic system in the early 2020s with the National Security Law and have since cracked down increasingly hard on the remaining organizations in the city that support democracy.