Police stand guard after raiding the news outlet Stand News in Hong Kong on December 29, 2021. Police recently arrested journalist Allan Au, a former Stand News columnist. (Reuters/James Pomfret)

Hong Kong police arrest journalist Allan Au for alleged sedition

Taipei, April 11, 2022 – Hong Kong authorities must release journalist Allan Au Ka-lun immediately and unconditionally, and stop detaining members of the press, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Monday.

On the morning of Monday, April 11, the Hong Kong Police Force’s national security department arrested Au at his home in Kwai Chung on suspicion of conspiring to publish seditious publications, according to news reports. Police did not disclose the specific reason for his arrest; those reports said it was linked to authorities’ 2021 crackdown on the now-shuttered nonprofit news website Stand News, where Au had worked as a columnist.

“The arrest of journalist Allan Au Ka-lun shows once again that Hong Kong’s claims to have maintained press freedom are rubbish,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia coordinator, in Washington, D.C. “Hong Kong police must release Au at once, drop any charges against him, and allow journalists to work without interference.”

In December 2021, police raided Stand News and arrested six people on the same sedition allegations. If charged and convicted, Au and those defendants could face a fine of up to $5,000 Hong Kong dollars (US$637), up to two years imprisonment for a first offense, and up to three years for subsequent offenses, according to Hong Kong’s Crimes Ordinance.

Au formerly worked as a producer for the Chinese-language news broadcaster TVB News, as a radio host for the public broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong, and as a columnist for Stand News and the Chinese-language newspaper Ming Pao, according to those news reports.

He frequently posts political commentary on his personal Facebook page, where he has about 5,300 followers, and also works as a consultant for the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s School of Journalism and Communication, according to those reports and the school’s website.

CPJ emailed the Hong Kong Police Force for comment, but did not immediately receive any reply.

CPJ’s 2021 prison census found that China remained the world’s worst jailer of journalists for the third year in a row. It was the first time that journalists in Hong Kong appeared on CPJ’s census.