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SPJ Statement on arrest of Hong Kong journalist Jimmy Lai


Patricia Gallagher Newberry, SPJ National President, 513-702-4065,
Jennifer Royer, SPJ Director of Communications and Marketing, 317-361-4134,

INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists strongly condemns the attempts of the Hong Kong government to suppress the press, including the arrest of media owner Jimmy Lai.

This week authorities in Hong Kong arrested Lai, owner of Apple Daily, along with several of the paper’s editors, confiscated papers and computers from the newsroom. The security forces also rifled through the desks of Apple Daily reporters all in the name of collecting “evidence.”

“SPJ cannot express in strong enough terms our objections to the arrest of Lai by Hong Kong authorities,” said SPJ National President Patricia Gallagher Newberry. “Our outrage extends to the draconian security laws forced on the people of Hong Kong by the Chinese central government.”

Also today, the Associated Press reported that the Chinese government announced unspecified sanctions against 11 Americans for their “bad behavior” regarding Hong Kong. They included leaders of the National Endowment for Democracy, the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute, Human Rights Watch, and Freedom House and Senators Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton, Josh Hawley and Pat Toomey; and Congressman Chris Smith. The move followed the imposition of U.S. sanctions on 11 Chinese and Hong Kong government officials Aug. 7.

“These are the same tactics we have seen the Philippine government use against journalist Maria Ressa. Governments around the world are using individuals to send a message and promote fear for those in the media. It cannot and must not be tolerated,” Newberry said.

She added that the arrest of Lai is not unexpected, as he has been a nemesis of the Chinese government for years. "His publication – Apple Daily – is not one of the shining lights of ethical journalism, but we have to stand up for his rights to free speech and press,” she said.

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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