Hong Kong Leader Rejects Allegations of “Extinction” of Press Freedom | Freedom of press

Journalists face increasing pressure on Chinese territory with the shutdown of three independent media outlets since the imposition of the security law.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said she could not accept suggestions that press freedom in the city was threatened with extinction, as independent outlet Citizen News shut down due to fears for safety, days after a police raid on another independent outlet led to accusations of sedition against elderly people. Staff.

“This morning I read news about, due to the shutdown of online media, press freedom in Hong Kong is threatened with extinction… I just cannot accept these kinds of allegations,” Lam said at his weekly press conference on Tuesday.

Citizen News announced its closure on Sunday, citing a “deteriorated” media environment in the former British colony and concerns for the safety of its journalists following the previous week’s raid on rival publication Stand News.

Beijing vowed to respect Hong Kong’s freedoms, including freedom of the press, for at least 50 years when it took control of the territory in 1997, but has been accused by Western countries and advocacy groups. rights erode democracy and freedoms, especially since the imposition of the National Security Law.

Authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing have repeatedly denied the charges and said the security law helped restore stability after mass pro-democracy protests in 2019.

The closure of Citizen News means that three publications have now been closed since the legislation was introduced at the end of June 2020.

The popular pro-democracy Apple Daily shut down last year after police raids on its offices and the arrest of key staff, including founder Jimmy Lai who has been in prison since December 2020. Beijing voice critic, 74, was charged with ‘collusion with a foreign power’ – a breach of security law – and was slapped last week with an additional charge of sedition under colonial-era law .

Two editors of Stand News, an independent online publication, also face sedition charges following a police raid last week that saw outlet holdings frozen. Several other current editors and former and former board members were arrested, including famous Cantopop singer Denise Ho.

The security law criminalizes what Beijing considers acts of “secession”, “subversion”, “terrorism” and “foreign collusion to intervene in the affairs of the city”.

More than 100 pro-democracy supporters have been arrested under the law so far, and many more, including elected pro-democracy politicians, have fled into exile.

Beijing has also decided to overhaul the territory’s electoral system to ensure that only “patriots” are elected. New members of the Legislative Council swore allegiance to Lam on Monday, following the December election in which turnout plunged to an all-time high.

A security guard stands under the Chinese national emblem before newly elected lawmakers are sworn in at the Hong Kong Legislative Council on Monday [File: Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

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