In a statement on Thursday, the city’s leader Carrie Lam said that the raid was “purely law enforcement work” and refuted their claims that freedom of press or speech was endangered.
“Hong Kong is a society under the rule of law. We must uphold the rule of law, just like safeguarding national security and social order,” she said. “We do not target any specific media organization with any specific position. Our goal is activities that violate the law.”
The police also froze the assets of Stand News worth approximately HK$61 million (US$7.8 million). The National Security Police stated that the arrests were related to multiple “inflammatory” articles published by the media between July 2020 and November 2021.
“The news is not about sedition,” U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Brinken said in a statement on Wednesday, urging the authorities to release the arrested. “Freedom of speech, including freedom of the media, and access to information provided by independent media are essential to a prosperous and safe society.”
“By suppressing independent media, Chinese and local authorities have weakened Hong Kong’s credibility and viability,” he continued, using an acronym referring to the People’s Republic of China.
“Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms are at the core of the Basic Law and the principle of’one country, two systems’,” he said, referring to Hong Kong’s mini-constitution and the arrangement that grants Hong Kong a semi-autonomous status.
Other governments, including Canada and Taiwan, also condemned these arrests.
“We are shocked by the continued suppression of civic space, [including] The UN Human Rights Office said in a statement that 6 media workers were arrested on Stand News today. We urge the authorities to ensure that further litigation procedures fully respect the freedom of information, speech and association, and the rights of due process. “
Carrie Lam mentioned these responses to the crackdown in a statement on Thursday, adding: “Western media organizations and foreign governments made comments without understanding Hong Kong’s laws and all the evidence.”
In a press statement on Thursday, the city government also insisted that freedom of speech and freedom of the press are protected by law.
“However, freedom of speech and freedom of the press are not absolute,” the statement read. “According to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, such freedoms can be restricted for reasons such as protecting national security. We reiterate that no one can be above the law.”
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