Two members of a Hong Kong media outlet were charged on Thursday with “conspiracy to publish seditious material,” police said, a day after a raid on the pro-democracy publication Stand News.
China has tightened its control over Hong Kong since massive and sometimes violent pro-democracy protests engulfed the city in 2019, and the crackdown on the local press has also intensified.
Police broke into the Stand News office in the latest crackdown on Wednesday, seizing phones, computers and documents and taking away its editor.
The Hong Kong Police Department’s National Security Department said in a statement that “two men, aged 34 and 52, respectively, and an online media company” had each been charged “with a conspiracy count in sight of publishing a seditious publication “.
Local media reported that the couple were acting editor Patrick Lam and former editor Chung Pui-kuen.
The two men were arrested Wednesday morning with five others.
Stand News later said it would shut down operations, with the incident drawing international condemnation.
Deeply concerned about the closure of Stand News and the resulting arrests in Hong Kong. A confident government that is not afraid of the truth embraces a free press. We call on the Hong Kong authorities to stop targeting independent media and release those unjustly detained.
– Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) December 30, 2021 “Journalism is not sedition,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.
“By silencing the independent media, the PRC and local authorities are undermining the credibility and viability of Hong Kong,” he added, referring to the People’s Republic of China.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said Thursday she shared Blinken’s sentiment that “journalism is not sedition” – but added that seditious acts “could not be tolerated under the guise of reports “.
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