Over 200 Hong Kong Police Raid Local News Room, Arrest 6, Including Singer Denise Ho

By Frank Fang
Frank Fang
Frank Fang
journalist
Frank Fang is a Taiwan-based journalist. He covers news in China and Taiwan. He holds a master's degree in materials science from Tsinghua University in Taiwan.
December 28, 2021 Updated: December 29, 2021

Over 200 police officers from Hong Kong’s National Security Department raided the offices of online pro-democracy media outlet Stand News on Dec. 29, while arresting six current and former staff members.

They were arrested for “conspiracy to publish seditious publications,” the Hong Kong government announced in a statement. The announcement did not name the six individuals, except that they were three men and three women, aged between 34 and 73.

The conspiracy charge is not a crime under the city’s draconian national security law. According to the statement, the six were accused of breaching the city’s colonial Crimes Ordinance.

One allegedly arrested was Ronson Chan, Stand News’s deputy assignment editor, according to Stand News, which published a video on its Facebook page showing that the police arrived at his home at around 6 a.m. local time.

Chan is currently also the chairperson of the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKFA).

Denise Ho, a popular singer who was once a board member at Stand News, was arrested at around 6 a.m. local time, according to her Facebook page. Ho has been a vocal supporter of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

According to Hong Kong media, former editor-in-chief Chung Pui-kuen, acting chief editor Patrick Lam, and barrister Margaret Ng were among those arrested. Ng was also once a board member.

According to a separate statement, the Hong Kong government stated “over 200 uniformed and plainclothes police officers have been deployed” in an operation against Stand News. It stated that the police were there to “search and seize relevant journalistic materials.”

The massive police operation immediately drew condemnation from Samuel Chu, president and founder of U.S.-based advocacy group Campaign for Hong Kong. Chu said Beijing was sending a strong message since the raid was carried out the day after the HKFA held an annual dinner.

“Beijing is sending a ‘death threat’ to what little remains of Hong Kong’s press freedom—and doing so with maximum cruelty and sadism,” Chu stated.

“We strongly condemn this dangerous use of colonial-era sedition laws to strangle press freedom and freedom of expression, and we also know that this attack will not stop with just Hong Kong media companies,” he added.

In June, some 500 Hong Kong police officers raided Apple Daily’s headquarters and arrested five directors of the newspaper, including its editor-in-chief. The police accused them of “collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security.”

Apple Daily, which is published by Next Digital, is a Hong Kong newspaper known for publishing voices critical of China’s ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and voices supportive of the Hong Kong protesters.

Apple Daily subsequently closed down after printing its last edition on June 24, after many years of publication since its first edition in 1995.

On Dec. 28, Hong Kong prosecutors filed a “seditious publications” against Apple Daily’s founder Jimmy Lai, adding to the charges he already faced under the national security law. Lai is currently in prison.

“We urge the U.S. government and its allies, along with news organizations and journalists worldwide, to condemn this latest assault on press freedom and to work toward the release of all imprisoned journalists in Hong Kong and China,” Chu said.

HKJA, in a statement published on its Facebook page, said it is “deeply concerned that the police have repeatedly arrested senior members of the media and searched the offices of news organizations containing large quantities of journalistic materials within a year.”

“HKJA urges the government to protect press freedom in accordance with the Basic Law,” it added.

Frank Fang
journalist
Frank Fang is a Taiwan-based journalist. He covers news in China and Taiwan. He holds a master's degree in materials science from Tsinghua University in Taiwan.