A pro-democracy outlet in Hong Kong said it would close its doors after police raided its offices on Wednesday, arrested senior officials for alleged “seditious publication” offenses and froze assets worth $ 5. Â£ 8million.
“Due to the situation, Stand News is now shutting down,” the Stand News post said in a Facebook post. âInterim Editor-in-Chief Patrick Lam has resigned and all Stand News employees are being fired. “
Hundreds of members of the Hong Kong National Security Police raided the office earlier today and arrested seven people for “seditious publications.” Police alleged that the online news site had published articles inciting hatred against authorities and that officers seized around Â£ 47,000 in cash from its offices.
According to South China Morning Post, police left six hours after the raids began with 33 boxes of potential evidence, including computers and journalistic equipment.
Stand News is second outlet in Hong Kong to face charges of promoting ‘seditious material’ after defunct pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper. Its owner, Jimmy Lai, along with six other senior executives were slapped with new sedition charges earlier this week. Apple Daily also closed.
Stand News was launched in 2014 as a non-profit organization and was one of the most prominent pro-democracy publications in Hong Kong.
SCMP reported that the outlet’s bank account was also frozen. Further details of the alleged breaches are expected to be disclosed at a press conference later today.
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) said in a statement it was “deeply concerned” about the arrests of members of the media over the past year.
He added that “the association urges the government to protect press freedom in accordance with the Basic Law”.
“We are investigating the incident and have no further comments at this time, but will announce any new information in due course,” he said.