Hong Kong pro-democracy information web site closes after raid, arrests

HONG KONG (AP) — A vocal pro-democracy web site in Hong Kong shut down Wednesday after police raided its workplace and arrested seven present and former editors, board members and a journalist in a seamless crackdown on dissent within the semi-autonomous Chinese language metropolis.

Stand Information mentioned in an announcement that its web site and social media are now not being up to date and shall be taken down. It mentioned all staff have been dismissed.

The outlet was one of many final remaining overtly crucial voices in Hong Kong following the shuttering of the Apple Every day newspaper, which closed after its writer, Jimmy Lai, and prime editors have been arrested and its belongings frozen.

Police raided Stand Information’ workplace earlier within the day after arresting the six, together with in style singer and activist Denise Ho, a former board member, on costs of conspiracy to publish a seditious publication.

They later additionally arrested a seventh particular person, a former Apple Every day editor who’s married to the arrested former Stand Information editor.

Greater than 200 officers have been concerned within the search, police mentioned. That they had a warrant to grab related journalistic supplies underneath a nationwide safety regulation enacted final 12 months.

The seven have been arrested underneath against the law ordinance that dates from Hong Kong’s days as a British colony earlier than 1997, when it was returned to China. These convicted may resist two years in jail and a positive of as much as 5,000 Hong Kong {dollars} ($640).

Police didn’t establish who was arrested, however Hong Kong’s South China Morning Submit newspaper reported they have been one present and one former editor of Stand Information, and 4 former board members together with Ho and former lawmaker Margaret Ng.

A Fb publish early Wednesday morning on Ho’s account confirmed that she was being arrested. A subsequent message posted on her behalf mentioned she was OK and urged pals and supporters to not fear about her.

That publish drew almost 40,000 likes and a couple of,700 feedback, largely from supporters.

Early Wednesday, Stand Information posted a video on Fb of cops on the dwelling of a deputy editor, Ronson Chan. Chan, who can also be chair of the Hong Kong Journalists Affiliation, was taken away for questioning, the group confirmed in an announcement.

Chan, who was later launched, advised media the police seized his digital units, financial institution playing cards and press card.

The arrests come as authorities crack down on dissent within the semi-autonomous Chinese language metropolis. Hong Kong police beforehand raided the workplaces of the now-defunct Apple Every day newspaper, seizing containers of supplies and laptop exhausting drives to help of their investigation and freezing thousands and thousands in belongings that later compelled the newspaper to stop operations.

Police charged the Apple Every day’s Lai, who’s already jailed on different costs, with sedition on Tuesday.

“We aren’t focusing on reporters, we’re not focusing on the media, we simply focused nationwide safety offenses,” mentioned Li Kwai-wah, senior superintendent of the police Nationwide Safety Division. “When you solely report, I don’t assume this can be a downside.”

He mentioned at a information convention that these arrested needed to account for his or her actions even when that they had resigned from Stand Information.

Requested what recommendation he had for the media, Li replied, “Don’t be biased. You recognize properly how one can report, how one can be a accountable reporter, how one can make a non-biased report back to your readers. That’s all I can provide you.”

Stand Information earlier this 12 months mentioned it could droop subscriptions and take away most opinion items and columns from its web site because of the nationwide safety regulation. Six board members additionally resigned from the corporate.

The journalists’ affiliation urged town’s authorities to guard press freedom in accordance with Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Primary Legislation.

“The Hong Kong Journalists Affiliation (HKJA) is deeply involved that the police have repeatedly arrested senior members of the media and searched the workplaces of stories organizations containing giant portions of journalistic supplies inside a 12 months,” it mentioned in an announcement.

Benedict Rogers, co-founder and CEO of the non-governmental group Hong Kong Watch, mentioned the arrests are “nothing wanting an all-out assault on the liberty of the press in Hong Kong.”

“When a free press assured by Hong Kong’s Primary Legislation is labeled ‘seditious,’ it’s a image of the pace at which this as soon as nice, open, worldwide metropolis has descended into little greater than a police state,” he mentioned.

Wednesday’s arrests additionally adopted the removing of sculptures and different paintings from college campuses final week. The works supported democracy and memorialized the victims of China’s crackdown on democracy protesters at Beijing’s Tiananmen Sq. in 1989.

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