Press freedom downward spiral continues after Hong Kong arrests

In response to the arrest this morning of current and former senior executives and board members of the Hong Kong media outlet Stand News for alleged “seditious publication”, Amnesty International Deputy Secretary General Kyle Ward, said :

“The relentless campaign against press freedom in Hong Kong continues with the stunning early morning police raid and arrests of senior executives at the outspoken Stand News.

“Authorities continue to militarize Hong Kong’s legal system by invoking a colonial-era ‘seditious publication’ law. Also suggesting that the articles could “incite secession”.

“It is outlandish that the government continues to claim that the arrests comply with the ICCPR when international human rights standards clearly state that freedom of expression, whether in the name of ‘national security’ or otherwise , can only be legally restricted in a proportionate and clearly defined way, rather than criminalizing a politically selected range of non-violent activities. The justifications given by the authorities so far have not demonstrated that the restriction threshold has been reached.

“The arrests, seizure of journalistic material and freezing of assets have an immediate deterrent effect, with Stand News announcing that it will cease operations. This is unfortunately not unexpected and continues the downward spiral of press freedom in Hong Kong.

“All media workers arrested today solely for doing their legitimate work as journalists must be released immediately.”

Fund

This morning current and former Stand News executives were arrested for ‘seditious publications’ under Sections 9 and 10 of the Crimes Ordinance, an archaic colonial-era provision last amended in the years 1970. According to media reports, more than 200 National Security Police officers raided the online media and authorities confirmed to have frozen more than 61 million Hong Kong dollars (approximately 7.8 million ) assets.

Stand News has since announced that they have gone out of business.

Among those arrested are former editor Chung Pui-kuen, current editor Patrick Lam, former board member and legislator Margaret Ng, former board member Christine Fong , Chow Tat-chi, and pop singer and former board member Denise Ho.

The ex-Apple Daily executives also faced the additional charge of “seditious publications” yesterday.

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