Hong Kong‘s national security police on Wednesday morning arrested six people with ties to online outlet Stand News, local media reported.
The Hong Kong Police Force said in a statement its national security arrested “six senior staff members or former senior staff members of an online media company… for conspiracy to publish seditious publication.” In a separate statement, police said that more than 200 officers were deployed on Wednesday in a search operation “against an online media company.”
Police said a warrant to search and seize “relevant journalistic materials” was issued under the national security law, a controversial piece of legislation imposed by Beijing in mid-2020. The media company was Stand News, the South China Morning Post reported, describing it as an outlet popular among Hong Kong opposition activists. Police said they arrested three men and three women of ages ranging from 34 to 73.
Hong Kong‘s security law targets pro-democracy opposition and opposes activities that Beijing considers subversive, separatist, terrorist or conspiratorial. In the view of critics, it serves to silence the opposition and cement the power of the Communist Party. Over 100 democracy activists have been arrested under the vague and far-reaching law, and dozens remain in jail on protest-related charges.
In June, Hong Kong‘s pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily was shut down after the tabloid was targeted by the authorities for alleged violations of the law. Since July 1, 1997, the former British Crown Colony has been part of China again and is governed semi-autonomously as a so-called special administrative region.
According to a survey released in November, 46 per cent of all journalists working in Hong Kong are thinking about turning their backs on the Chinese special administrative region following the introduction of the law. As many as 84 per cent of respondents said their working conditions had deteriorated since the law was introduced in July 2020. Fear of legal consequences had even led 56 per cent of journalists to censor themselves.