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SPJ condemns China's attacks on the media in Hong Kong


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12/29/2021


CONTACT:
Rebecca Aguilar, SPJ National President, 317-361-4134, rebeccaaguilar50@gmail.com
Jennifer Royer, SPJ Director of Communications and Marketing, 317-361-4134, jroyer@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS — “The Society of Professional Journalists is outraged by the continued attacks on press freedom under the guise of national security," said Dan Kubiske, co-chair of the SPJ International Community. The latest offense was the Wednesday raid and shutdown of Stand News, the most prominent pro-democracy media outlet in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong police raided the online news service offices and arrested seven journalists and board members, including Ronson Chan, the Hong Kong Journalists Association chair. Also arrested was board member Margaret Ng, a former legislator and civil rights activist. Although both were later released, the message is clear: Do not challenge the government. Police also seized and froze the media outlet's $7.8 million assets.

According to media reports, a senior police official said Stand News published seditious material that caused discontent among the public and hatred toward the government. He noted most of the commentaries were written by Hong Kong people forced into exile by the National Security Law.

"Ever since Beijing imposed the National Security Law on Hong Kong in 2020, the local government has moved to shut down opposition to that government," added Kubiske.

Earlier this year, the Hong Kong police raided and seized the assets of Apple Daily, shutting down the most prominent voice critical of the government.

Officers arrested Apple Daily publisher Jimmy Lai on charges of "sedition" for attending a memorial service to commemorate the suppression of the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstration in Beijing. Lai was sentenced to 13 months in jail and still faces additional charges of sedition.

Hong Kong Free Press, one of the few remaining independent news outlets in Hong Kong, reported that after the forced closing of Apple Daily in June 2021, Stand News removed all opinion pieces from its website.

The attacks on the press are a blatant violation of the 1997 treaty by which Great Britain relinquished control of its colony to China with the stipulation that Hong Kong retains a "separate status" in which democracy and freedom of the press would be respected.

"SPJ stands with our brave colleagues in Hong Kong who continue to believe in the right of news organizations to be free from government control," said Kubiske. "We call on the Hong Kong government to abide by the 1997 treaty and end its persecution of journalists who do what free and independent journalists are supposed to do – hold public figures to account, ask questions and provide their consumers with truthful information."

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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