RSF urges Hong Kong government to cease judicial harassment of two Stand News editors, one year after the media’s shutdown
One year after the forced shutdown of Hong Kong independent media Stand News, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urges the government to drop all charges against two of the outlet’s former editors-in-chief, who face up to two years in prison for alleged “seditious publications.”
Since the enactment of the National Security Law, reporting in Hong Kong has become a daily struggle for media professionals, who risk being accused of sedition or crimes against the state for only serving the public interest. Hong Kong authorities should drop all charges against the two journalists and stop its nefarious campaign against press freedom.
Thursday 29 December will mark one year since Hong Kong's independent, award-winning media Stand News’ office was raided by 200 police officers and forced to shut down. That same day, six senior executives were arrested, including four board members who were released on bail shortly after. Until today, two editors-in-chief, Chung Pui-kuen and Patrick Lam, remain on trial for “seditious publications,” a crime which carries a maximum sentence of two years.
The two journalists were detained for nearly a year and were only recently being granted bail. On 22 December, a Hong Kong court rejected the editors’ appeal to drop the sedition charges on the grounds of improperly handled evidence. In December, the Association of Overseas Hong Kong Media Professionals (AOHKMP) called for a halt to trials against journalists, including the former Stand News executives, citing the Hong Kong authorities’ use of judicial harassment as a serious threat to press freedom.
Over the past two years, the Hong Kong government has been leading an unprecedented campaign against press freedom. It has resulted in the prosecution of at least 23 journalists and press freedom defenders, 12 of whom are currently detained, and the forced shutdown of major independent media outlets including Apple Daily. At the same time, the climate of fear confronting Hong Kong journalists led at least five smaller media outlets to cease operations.
Hong Kong, once a bastion of press freedom, has plummeted from 80th place in 2021 to 148th place in the 2022 RSF World Press Freedom Index, marking the index’s sharpest drop of the year. China itself ranks 175th of the 180 countries and territories evaluated.