Hong Kong police force closure of one of city’s last pro-democracy news sites

Hong Kong police raided the headquarters of one of the city’s last pro-democracy news sites and jailed seven current and former employees and contributors on Wednesday.

Stand News was founded 2014 as a nonprofit organization and made a name for itself covering the pro-democracy protests in 2019. The seven individuals taken into custody Wednesday were arrested on suspicion of conspiring to publish “seditious materials” and encouraging hatred toward the government, according to police. The authorizes also froze a total of HK$61 million in assets.

A protester is detained in Central district of Hong Kong on Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. A Hong Kong protester was shot by police Monday in a dramatic scene caught on video as demonstrators blocked train lines and roads during the morning commute. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

A protester is detained in Central district of Hong Kong on Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. A Hong Kong protester was shot by police Monday in a dramatic scene caught on video as demonstrators blocked train lines and roads during the morning commute. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Following the raid, the outlet announced it would shut down operations.

“Stand News’s editorial policy was to be independent and committed to safeguarding Hong Kong’s core values of democracy, human rights, freedom, the rule of law and justice,” Stand News said in an announcement, as reported by the Hong Kong Free Press. “Thank you, readers, for your continued support.”

HIGH-PROFILE AMERICANS AMONG CHINA’S NETWORK OF INTERNATIONAL APOLOGISTS

Protesters against the new national security law gesture with five fingers, signifying the

Protesters against the new national security law gesture with five fingers, signifying the “Five demands – not one less” on the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain in Hong Kong, Wednesday, July. 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Hong Kong’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club said it was “deeply concerned” about the arrests.

“The Foreign Correspondents Club, Hong Kong is deeply concerned over the arrests of six journalists and individuals associated with Stand News, including former directors … These actions are a further blow to press, freedom in Hong Kong and will continue to chill the media environment in the city following a difficult year for the city’s news outlets,” the group declared.

BRITAIN RECEIVES OVER 88K VISA APPLICATIONS FROM HONG KONG RESIDENTS SEEKING TO LEAVE AFTER CHINA’S CRACKDOWN

Hong Kong officials have engaged in crackdowns on organizations considered a threat to the government since the Chinese Communist Party enacted a National Security Law in June 2020 intended to tamp down on protests. Authorities used the law to arrest five editors from Apple Daily, an outlet that had long defended democracy in Hong Kong, accusing the outlet of playing a “crucial part” in what they called a conspiracy with foreign countries to impose sanctions against China and Hong Kong. Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai is currently serving a 20-month prison sentence after being convicted of playing a role in the 2019 protests.

Copies of Apple Daily newspaper are packed at the printing house in Hong Kong, early Friday, June 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Copies of Apple Daily newspaper are packed at the printing house in Hong Kong, early Friday, June 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
(AP)

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Earlier this month, thousands of Hong Kong residents seeking refuge responded when the United Kingdom opened visa applications for the former British colony.

“The erosion of liberty in Hong Kong is an affront to freedom and democracy” British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss tweeted of the announcement.

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