Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday condemned Hong Kong’s arrest of seven Stand News employees and called on China to stop “targeting” the city’s free press.
Blinken also demanded the release of the journalists and media executives detained and charged in Wednesday’s raid.
“Freedom of expression, including media freedom, and access to information provided by an independent media are critical to prosperous and secure societies. These freedoms enabled Hong Kong to flourish as a global center for finance, trade, education, and culture. By silencing independent media, PRC and local authorities undermine Hong Kong’s credibility and viability. A confident government that is unafraid of the truth embraces a free press,” Blinken said in a statement.
Hundreds of Hong Kong police officers raided the news organization’s headquarters on Wednesday, in the latest in a series of crackdowns on independent media and press freedoms in the city. Stand News, a pro-democracy news website, said later Wednesday it would shut down immediately, delete social media pages and dismiss all employees.
“Stand News’s editorial policy was to be independent and committed to safeguarding Hong Kong’s core values of democracy, human rights, freedom, the rule of law and justice,” the announcement said. “Thank you, readers, for your continued support.”
Hong Kong’s media clampdown began in 2020 when the Chinese Communist Party imposed a new national security law in a bid to halt intense and sometimes violent protests. One of the city’s most well-known pro-democracy newspapers, Apple Daily, was forced to close its doors earlier this year after multiple police raids and the arrest of founder Jimmy Lai and several top editors.
Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, has yet to clarify how journalists can avoid breaking the broad yet vague national security law.