New York, December 28, 2021 – In response to Hong Kong authorities’ raid on Stand News today and the arrests of six people affiliated with the outlet, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement of condemnation:
“The arrests of six people associated with Stand News amounts to an open assault on Hong Kong’s already tattered press freedom, as China steps up direct control over the former colony,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “Authorities must release the six and drop all charges against them immediately if Hong Kong is to retain any semblance of the freedoms that its residents enjoyed only a few years ago.”
Hundreds of officers with the Hong Kong Police Force’s national security department raided the offices of the nonprofit Chinese-language news website on the morning of December 29, according to reports by the Hong Kong Free Press and the South China Morning Post. Police said the raid was authorized under the 2020 national security law, those reports said.
Police also arrested six people affiliated with the outlet on suspicion of conspiring to commit sedition under the colonial-era Crimes Law, according to those reports, which identified those arrested as deputy assignment editor Ronson Chan, acting chief editor Patrick Lam, former editor-in-chief Chung Pui-kuen, and former director and chief science editor Chow Tai-chi.
The other two arrested, singer Denise Ho and lawyer Margaret Ng, are former members of Stand News’s board, those reports said, which also noted that Chan chairs the Hong Kong Journalists Association.
CPJ’s 2021 prison census has found that China remains the world’s worst jailer of journalists for the third year in a row. This year marked the first time that journalists in Hong Kong were imprisoned for their work, according to CPJ’s census.