Washington demands China, Hong Kong cease targeting free press
Washington, Dec 29 (EFE).- The United States on Wednesday condemned a Hong Kong national security police raid against digital outlet Stand News, which resulted in the arrest of seven current and former senior staff members and its closure.
“The Hong Kong government’s December 29 raid and arrest of seven senior staff at Stand News have forced yet another of the few remaining bastions of free and independent media in Hong Kong to cease operations,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
He demanded the authorities of China and Hong Kong to “cease targeting Hong Kong’s free and independent media and to immediately release those journalists and media executives who have been unjustly detained and charged.”
More than 200 officers participated in the raid, in which computers and documents, as well as some HK$500,000 ($64,000) in cash were seized.
Assets worth HK$61 million were also frozen by authorities.
Hours after the arrests for conspiracy to distribute seditious publications, Stand News announced in a statement on its official Facebook page an immediate cessation of operations, the resignation of acting editor-in-chief Patrick Lam – who was arrested – and the termination of all employees. It said its website and social media accounts would be taken down.
“Journalism is not sedition,” said Blinken. “A confident government that is unafraid of the truth embraces a free press.”
The head of US diplomacy added that “by silencing independent media, [Chinese] and local authorities undermine Hong Kong’s credibility and viability.”
The raid against Stand News, a not-for-profit outlet with a pro-democracy lean, was reminiscent of that carried out in June against the Apple Daily, which also then closed its operations. EFE