Hong Kong: RSF urges for release of a former Stand News columnist

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the release of Allan Au, a veteran journalist and columnist for the now defunct media outlet Stand News who was arrested in Hong Kong today under suspicion of ‘conspiracy to publish seditious publication’.


Update - 11th April 2022


Allan Au was released on a bail shortly before midnight, no charges have been yet pressed against him. 


On 11th April, Allan Au, a veteran journalist and columnist for the now defunct independent media outlet Stand News, was arrested at his residence in Hong Kong by the police force's National Security Department under the accusation of ‘conspiracy to publish seditious publication’, a crime that bears a maximum sentence of two years in prison. Au is the third journalist linked to Stand News detained under this law, along with chief editors Patrick Lam and Chung Pui-kuen who are currently awaiting trial in custody. 

“The detention of a third journalist from Stand News two months after the media’s forced shutdown, shows the government’s determination to put an end to press freedom in the territory”, says Reporters Without Borders (RSF) East Asia Bureau head, Cédric Alviani, who urges the international community to pressure Beijing to “secure Au’s release alongside all other journalists and press freedom defenders detained in Hong Kong.”

Allan Au, 54, previously worked as a columnist for Chinese-language newspaper Ming Pao, a radio host on public broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) and as a producer at Cantonese-language channel TVB News. Until this day, he was also a consultant at the School of Journalism and Communication of Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). 

Fourteen press freedom defenders behind bars

On 29th December, the management of Stand News, an independent non-profit Chinese news website announced it would cease its operations following a raid of its premises and arrest of its staff on the same day. Founded in 2014, Stand News provided in-depth coverage of all trials related to the National Security Law and was a nominee for the RSF Press Freedom Awards in 2021. 

In June 2021, Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, used the National Security Law as a pretext to shut down Apple Daily, the territory’s largest Chinese-language opposition newspaper, and prosecute at least a two dozen of journalists and press freedom defenders, fourteen of whom are currently detained including Au. 

In a report titled The Great Leap Backwards of Journalism in China, published on 7th December 2021, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) revealed the system of censorship and information control established by the Chinese regime and the global threat it poses to press freedom and democracy.

Hong Kong, once a bastion of press freedom, has fallen from 18th place in 2002 to 80th place in the 2021 RSF World Press Freedom Index. The People's Republic of China, for its part, has stagnated at 177th out of 180.

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Updated on 12.04.2022