Hong Kong police shut down pro-democracy outlet Booth News: NPR


In Hong Kong, National Security Department police authorities arrested half a dozen senior officials, confiscated boxes and shut down one of the last remaining pro-democracy media outlets, Stand News.



ARI SHAPIRO, HTE:

More than 200 police officers raided the offices of a major pro-democracy media outlet in Hong Kong today.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSONS: (non-English language spoken).

SHAPIRO: This is the scene where the National Security Police shut down the Stand News website. They also arrested at least six people associated with Stand and confiscated equipment.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Now those arrested would be accused of conspiring to publish seditious material. But the Committee to Protect Journalists calls it an attack on press freedom.

STEVEN BUTLER: We see more and more that what the authorities are doing is cracking down on the independent media.

KELLY: Steven Butler is CPJ’s Asia Program Coordinator.

BUTLER: For the first time since the Committee to Protect Journalists kept records – that is, since 1992 – Hong Kong journalists are in jail in our annual investigation. This has never happened before.

SHAPIRO: The chief superintendent of the Hong Kong Police Department of National Security is Steve Lee. He told reporters that they were not targeting the media or journalists, just, I quote, “national security breaches.” This explanation does not suit Steven Butler.

BUTLER: Obviously, the intention is to send a very strong message that this kind of critical coverage of the Hong Kong government and the Chinese government is simply no longer acceptable.

KELLY: Now the backdrop here is that last year China introduced a controversial national security law in response to pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. Since then, local authorities have used this law to detain journalists. Six months ago, police shut down Apple Daily, a popular pro-democracy newspaper in Hong Kong.

SHAPIRO: Of course, it’s not just journalists who are now under threat, says former lawmaker and pro-democracy activist Nathan Law. He fled the once semi-autonomous city.

NATHAN LAW: Under the National Security Act, it criminalizes free speech and prosecutes Democratic activists for what they campaign for: democracy.

SHAPIRO: Hong Kong Police could not be immediately reached for a further response.

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