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US calls on Chinese and Hong Kong authorities to release Stand News staff

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on Chinese and Hong Kong authorities to immediately release employees of the pro-democracy news portal Stand News who were arrested Wednesday during a police raid on the editorial office.

Chinese police raids pro-democratic news outlet in Hong Kong

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“We call on the PRC [People’s Republic of China] and Hong Kong authorities to stop attacking Hong Kong’s free and independent media and to immediately release those journalists and media chiefs who have been wrongfully detained and accused,” the head of US diplomacy said Wednesday evening.

“By silencing the independent media, the PRC and local authorities are undermining Hong Kong’s credibility,” Mr Blinken emphasised.

More than 100 Hong Kong state security police officers entered the editorial office of the independent news portal Stand News on Wednesday. Six former and current employees were arrested on suspicion of “inflammatory publications.”

The detainees include the former and current editor-in-chief of Stand News, Chung Pui-kuen and Patrick Lam, as well as four people who served on the portal’s board until November, including singer Denise Ho, known for supporting the democratic movement, and former member of the Hong Kong parliament, lawyer Margaret Ng, Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) reported.

Over the past two years, the Hong Kong administration, loyal to Beijing, has stepped up its campaign against the democratic movement using PRC-imposed state security regulations. Most influential opposition activists have been sentenced to imprisonment or charged with crimes, and the independent media have been targeted by the police security department.

In June, after a raid on the editorial office, arrests of journalists and the freezing of bank accounts, the largest pro-democratic daily “Pinggwo Yatbou” (“Apple Daily”) was forced to end its activities. Its founder, Jimmy Lai, a media magnate critical of the authorities, was sentenced to prison for protests. He was also charged with a number of charges under state security regulations.

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