Two former editors with the Hong Kong pro-democracy news outlet Stand News were charged with sedition Thursday. Chung Pui-kuen and Patrick Lam are set to remain in jail after their bail requests were denied. The video above shows police taking Chung Pui-kuen to court.
“This is such a pity. Of course, we had expected this, but we feel it’s very sad that the next opportunity to see them won’t be until next February in court,” Hong Kong Journalists Association chair and former Stand News senior editor Ronson Chan said Thursday.
The sedition charges for the former editors came a day after Hong Kong police raided Stand News and made seven arrests. The video above also shows clips from the raid and arrests. Following the raid, Stand News said it is ceasing operations and had laid off all its staff. Police said they would prosecute the company as a whole for sedition.
“Anybody who attempts to make use of media work as a tool to pursue their political purpose, or other interests, contravenes the law, particularly offences that endanger national security,” Hong Kong Chief Secretary for Administration John Lee said Wednesday.
Officials in the United States and Canada voiced strong opposition to the raid and arrests.
“Journalism is not sedition,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. “We call on PRC and Hong Kong authorities to cease targeting Hong Kong’s free and independent media and to immediately release those journalists and media executives who have been unjustly detained and charged.”
“Freedom of media and expression remain cornerstones of democracy and essential to the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms,” Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mélanie Joly said in a tweet thread. “We will continue to speak out and denounce violations of these freedoms, in partnership with our international allies.”
On Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said the sedition charges in Hong Kong have “nothing to do with freedom of press or freedom of speech,” and “freedom of press and speech cannot be a shield for criminal acts.”
“If the US government is unafraid of the truth and is confident, why is it pursuing the extradition of [Julian] Assange? Why didn’t it treat [Edward] Snowden like a whistleblower,” Zhao asked. “The US should abandon hypocrisy and double standards and stop interfering in China’s internal affairs in the name of freedom.”