Hong Kong media Stand News closes after raid, arrests

HONG KONG (AP) – Hong Kong pro-democracy online media Stand News has said it has ceased operations following a raid and arrests of current editors and board members and old.

The outlet released a statement on Wednesday saying its website and social media are no longer updated and will be taken down. He says all employees have been made redundant.

Police raided the Stand News office earlier today after arresting six people on charges of conspiring to publish a seditious publication. The move is the latest in an ongoing crackdown on dissent in the semi-autonomous Chinese city.

THIS IS A CURRENT UPDATE. AP’s previous story follows below.

HONG KONG – Hong Kong police raided the office of a pro-democracy online media outlet on Wednesday after arresting six people for conspiring to publish a seditious publication, the latest crackdown on dissent in the city .

Those arrested were affiliated with Stand News, one of the city’s most vocal pro-democracy news outlets after pro-democracy Apple Daily ceased operations earlier this year.

More than 200 officers were involved in the search, police said. They had a warrant to seize relevant journalistic documents under a national security law enacted last year.

The six men were arrested early Wednesday under a colonial-era crimes ordinance for conspiring to publish a seditious publication, and searches of their residences were underway, police said. Those found guilty could face up to two years in prison and a fine of up to HK $ 5,000 ($ 640).

According to the local South China Morning Post, police arrested a current and former editor of Stand News, as well as four former board members, including singer and activist Denise Ho and former lawmaker Margaret Ng. .

Police did not identify those arrested.

A Facebook post early Wednesday morning on Ho’s account confirmed that she was being arrested. A subsequent message posted on her behalf said she was fine and urged her friends and supporters not to worry about her.

This post attracted nearly 40,000 likes and 2,700 comments, mostly from supporters.

Early Wednesday, Stand News posted a video on Facebook showing police officers at the home of deputy editor Ronson Chan, where they were investigating the alleged crime. Chan, who is also chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA), was taken for questioning, the organization confirmed in a statement.

Chan, who was later released, told media that police seized his electronics, bank cards and press card.

The arrests come as authorities crack down on dissent in the semi-autonomous Chinese city. Hong Kong police previously raided the offices of the now-defunct Apple Daily newspaper, seizing boxes of equipment and hard drives to aid their investigation and freezing millions of assets, which subsequently forced the newspaper to cease its activities.

Police charged former Apple Daily editor Jimmy Lai with sedition on Tuesday.

Earlier this year, Stand News announced that it would be suspending subscriptions and removing most opinion pieces and columns from its website due to national security law. Six members of the board of directors had also resigned from the company.

The HKJA urged the city government to protect press freedom in accordance with Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) is deeply concerned that the police have repeatedly arrested senior media officials and searched news agency offices containing large amounts of journalistic material in the ‘within a year,’ she said in a statement.

Benedict Rogers, co-founder and CEO of the non-governmental organization Hong Kong Watch, said the arrests were “nothing less than a total assault on press freedom in Hong Kong.”

“When a free press guaranteed by Hong Kong’s basic law is called ‘seditious’, it is a symbol of how quickly this once large and open international city has become little more than a police state,” he said. he declared.

Wednesday’s arrests also followed the removal of sculptures and other artwork from college campuses last week. The works supported democracy and commemorated the victims of the Chinese crackdown on Democratic protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989.