Two people working for Stand News have been slapped with sedition charges, just a day after the online pro-democracy news outlet said it was winding down operations in the wake of a police raid on its office and seven arrests.
The National Security police said in a statement on Thursday that they had charged two men, aged 34 and 52, with a count each of “conspiracy to publish seditious publications”.
The charge of “conspiracy to publish seditious publications” was applied to an online media company, police said, without naming Stand News, reported Reuters.
The statement did not name those who were charged, but some local media reports said they were former senior editors at the outlet.
The former senior editors are reportedly Chung Pui-kuen and Patrick Lam, according to the Associated Press, which cited local reports.
The two would be bought to West Kowloon court on Thursday where the case against them will be mentioned, according to the news agency.
“The other arrestees are being detained for further enquires,” said the police statement, referring to the others who were arrested on Wednesday.
Over 200 police officials had raided the outlet’s office on Wednesday.
Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam said the move was not to suppress the media but to curtail what she called seditious activity.
“These actions have nothing to do with so-called suppression of press freedom,” Ms Lam told reporters.
“Journalism is not seditious... but seditious activities could not be condoned under the guise of news reporting,” she added.
Hong Kong police’s action attracted international criticism.
The Committee to Protect Journalists and the UN Human Rights Office in Geneva said they were alarmed at the “extremely rapid closing of the civic space and outlets for Hong Kong’s civil society to speak and express themselves freely.”
Stand News was founded in 2014 as a nonprofit organisation. After Jimmy Lai’s Apple Daily was shut after similar police action against it, Stand News had become the most significant pro-democracy news organisation in the city.
The police action against the outlet has again raised concerns about press freedom in Hong Kong.
The city has been facing widespread demonstrations ever since China had introduced the National Security Law, which Beijing says it uses for national security concerns but which critics allege is to curb pro-democracy voices.
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