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SPJ calls for release of Hong Kong journalists


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6/17/2021


CONTACT:
Matthew T. Hall, SPJ National President, 619-987-7786, mhall@spj.org
Jennifer Royer, SPJ Director of Communications and Marketing, 317-361-4134, jroyer@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS — The Society of Professional Journalists condemns this week’s raid by Hong Kong authorities against Apple Daily and the subsequent arrests of five executives and editors, and calls for their release.

The raid is the second on the newspaper within 10 months under the supposed authority of security legislation imposed on Hong Kong by the Chinese government in Beijing. Apple Daily founder and publisher Jimmy Lai was arrested in the first raid and is currently serving 20 months in prison.

“Hong Kong was promised 50 years of civil liberties, including press freedom, under the terms of the handover to China in 1997,” said SPJ president Matthew T. Hall. “These raids on Apple Daily and threats against other media members in Hong Kong show that censorship, not press freedom, is now the norm. The journalism and international communities cannot tolerate this in Hong Kong or anywhere.”

The police told Hong Kong Free Press the charges against the Apple Daily executives were that they colluded with foreign forces. All were arrested in the early hours of June 17 at their homes.

The police also froze about $2.3 million in assets belonging to Apple Daily and its affiliated media outlets.

The police cited about three dozen articles in Chinese and English in Apple Daily that encouraged sanctions against China in 2019 – about a year before the new security law took effect – as evidence the media company was threatening national security.

The Hong Kong government has been moving against other Chinese-language independent news organizations. Under pressure from China, the independent television station TVB was ordered to not carry the Academy Awards presentation because a documentary about the 2019 Hong Kong protests was a nominee.

“The government has shown a continuous disregard for press freedom,” said SPJ International Community Co-chair Dan Kubiske. “Recently the government also gutted the editorial independence of RTHK by placing a government official with no broadcast experience in charge of the radio and television stations.”

SPJ calls on the Hong Kong government to live up to its international obligations to respect civic freedoms, including press freedom. We also call on the government to release the senior executives arrested in this most recent Apple Daily raid as well as publisher Jimmy Lai.

SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. Support excellent journalism and fight for your right to know. Become a member, give to the Legal Defense Fund or give to the SPJ Foundation.

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