Hong Kong independent media outlet Citizen News closes over security concerns – KION546

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By Eric Cheung and Tara John, CNN

Hong Kong’s independent news site Citizen News announced its closure on Tuesday, citing the deteriorating media environment in the city and the need to protect its staff.

Citizen News was the largest independent media outlet remaining in Hong Kong after the shutdown of Apple Daily in June and Stand News last Wednesday.

The outlet announced the decision on Facebook, saying it was taken to protect the safety of everyone involved. “Unfortunately, the major changes in our society over the past two years and the deteriorating media environment have made it impossible for us to carry out our mission without worry,” he wrote.

“In the middle of a smoldering storm, we found ourselves in a critical situation. In the face of a crisis, we must ensure the safety and well-being of all those on board, ”he added.

Citizen News was founded in 2017 by a number of veteran Hong Kong journalists and is funded entirely through crowdfunding. The statement said its website will stop updating as of Tuesday and will be removed “after a certain period of time.”

Stand News was closed after National Security Police raided its offices on Wednesday, arrested seven people associated with the publication, and froze approximately HK $ 61 million ($ 7.8 million) in company assets. .

Police said the arrests were linked to several “seditious” articles published by the outlet between July 2020 and November 2021.

The arrests included pop star Denise Ho and Margaret Ng, a former pro-democracy lawmaker and prominent lawyer, both former members of the media’s board of directors. Former Stand News editor Chung Pui-kuen and interim editor Patrick Lam were also arrested, according to the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA).

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam defended the raid, saying it had nothing to do with what they wrote.

“It was purely coercive work. It has nothing to do with journalistic or media work, ”Lam said Thursday.

Since Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong in 2020, pro-democracy groups have disbanded, activists and journalists have been arrested, and a number of independent media outlets have shut down.

Last summer, Apple Daily, Hong Kong’s largest pro-democracy publication, closed its doors after the arrest of several journalists and the freezing of millions of dollars in assets under the National Security Act.

Jailed media mogul Jimmy Lai, who founded Apple Daily, was slapped last week on an additional charge of “seditious publications” in addition to charges he already faces under the National Security Act.

Lai was sentenced to 13 months in prison in December for instigating and participating in the city’s annual candlelight vigil in 2020 to commemorate the Tiananmen Square crackdown. Authorities had declared the gathering illegal, due to restrictions linked to the coronavirus. Lai was already serving prison time on other charges.

The-CNN-Wire
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CNN’s Wayne Chang, Nectar Gan, Jadyn Sham and Teele Rebane contributed to this report.

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