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“Deeply concerned by the closure of Stand News and related arrests in Hong Kong,” Blinken said on Twitter Wednesday. “A confident government that is unafraid of the truth embraces a free press. We call on the Hong Kong authorities to stop targeting the independent media and release those unjustly detained.”
Blinken’s comments come after national security police raided Stand News, a pro-democracy media company based out of Hong Kong, resulting in the arrests of seven people associated with the publication on Wednesday.
Steve Li Kwai-wah, the senior superintendent of the Hong Kong police’s National Security Department, said Wednesday that the publication was shut down after “seditious” articles were published over the last year.
The shutdown comes after press freedom has been eroded in Hong Kong after China imposed a national security law on the independent country last year, leading to concerns over the state of press freedom in the territory that once called itself “Asia’s World City.”
“The Hong Kong Journalists Association 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,” the Hong Kong Journalists Association said in a statement Wednesday while imploring the government to “protect press freedom in accordance with the Basic Law.”
But authorities in Hong Kong defended the raid as necessary, arguing that some media outlets are “bad apples” that falsely claim to be journalistic outlets.
“Anybody who attempts to make use of media work as a tool to pursue their political purpose or other interest contravenes the law, particularly offenses that endanger national security,” Hong Kong Chief Secretary John Lee said Wednesday. “They are the evil elements that damage press freedom. Professional media workers should recognize that these are the bad apples who are abusing their position simply by wearing a false coat of media worker.”