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Police raid, arrests at Hong Kong's pro-democracy news portal

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Police raid, arrests at Hong Kongs pro-democracy news portal
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Stand News acting Chief Editor Patrick Lam is escorted by police as they leave after the police searched his office in Hong Kong [Image Credit: Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

Hong Kong: A large contingent from the Hong Kong national security police force raided online media outlet Stand News' office on Wednesday, arresting six people for seditious publications, Reuters reported. The non-profit media portal, founded in 2014, is one of the known remaining pro-democracy publications in Hong Kong.

Police said that more than 200 uniformed and plain-clothed officers were involved in the raid. They arrested three men and three women for publishing content pertaining to sedition. They had a warrant to seize journalistic materials, police said.

Though police didn't identify the arrestees, media reported that the six were former Stand News board members. They were former democratic legislator Margaret Ng, pop singer Denise Ho, Chow Tat-chi and Christine Fang, along with former chief editor Chung Pui-Kuen and acting chief editor Patrick Lam. Police confiscated the computer, mobile, tablet, press pass and bank records etc., of deputy assignment editor Ronson Chan.

In June, a similar police raid on Apple Daily had arrested its executives, accusing them of collusion with a foreign country. The newspaper was forced to shutter after police froze its assets. On Tuesday, Jimmy Lai- the owner of the daily- and six others were additionally charged for "seditious publications" in a petition filed by prosecutors. Lai was arrested and has been in jail since June.

But police, so far, have not revealed what Apple Daily or Stand News articles contributed to sedition. However, authorities have stated that arrests were done on evidence and not because of the arrestees profession.

To protect supporters, writers and staff, Stand News had taken down commentaries from its platform after the Apple Daily raid. It had announced that it would stop accepting donations from readers.

The government is working on many reforms regarding media. Authorities had informed that they are pushing forward for "fake news" legislation, which, along with the security law in Hong Kong, critics say that the government is suppressing dissent and press freedom, while authorities say it has restored order after 2019 pro-democracy unrests.

According to media advocacy groups, Hong Kong, a former British colony, returned to Chinese rule in 1997 after being promised protection of many individual rights.

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TAGS:Hong Kong China Pro-Democracy Controversy 
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