(HONG KONG) — Hong Kong’s national security police arrested six people linked to Stand News, an independent online media outlet, in another sign that the city’s once-thriving press freedom is taking a turn for the worse.
Police also froze $7.8 million in assets and raided the outlet’s headquarters, where they seized “subversive articles,” officers said at a press conference on Wednesday.
Stand News announced after the raid that it would close, saying staff would no longer speak to the media.
The raid and arrests came about six months after the pro-democracy paper Apple Daily was forced to shut down following a newsroom raid, seizure of its assets, and arrest of its founder, Jimmy Lai.
Those arrested on Wednesday included former Stand News board members Denise Ho, a well-known pop singer and democracy activist, and Margaret Ng, an ex-lawmaker. Ronson Chan, deputy assignment editor and Hong Kong Journalists Association chairman, was also detained.
The arrests were made at their homes under a colonial-era law covering conspiracy to print or distribute seditious materials, police said in a statement. Chan attempted to live-stream police arriving at his door.
Chief Secretary John Lee said that anyone who uses “journalism as a disguise and a tool to carry out acts that endanger national security will be severely struck by the SAR government.”
The HKJA in a statement posted on Facebook said it is “deeply concerned that the police have repeatedly arrested senior members of the media and searched the offices of news organizations … HKJA urges the government to protect press freedom in accordance with the Basic Law.”
Around 200 officers raided the Stand News office, with a search warrant under the national security law, allowing them to “search and seize relevant journalistic materials.”
Police were seen carrying boxes out of the Stand News office.
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