Media closures follow in Hong Kong. Journalists from the news site CitizenNews denounced, Monday January 3, the decline of press freedom in the territory, a few hours after announcing a cessation of their activities due to fears about their security.
This closure comes less than a week after the closure of the pro-democracy information site Stand News who has been the target of searches and seven arrests for “seditious publication”, the latest example of the crackdown on the local press by authorities loyal to Beijing.
CitizenNews, a non-partisan news site founded in 2017 by a group of veteran journalists and funded by its readers, is one of Hong Kong’s most popular online news outlets, with over 800,000 social media subscribers . It announced its closure on Sunday, specifying that its website would no longer be updated as of midnight Monday evening.
“We can no longer feel safe to work”
On the occasion of this last day, the journalists explained that their decision was based on the raid carried out last week on the premises of Stand News. “We have done our best not to break any laws, but it is difficult to know the outlines of law enforcement and we can no longer feel safe to work”Chris Yeung, co-founder of CitizenNews and former chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA). “Journalists are also human beings who have families and friends”, he added.
Chris Yeung said his editorial staff had not been contacted by law enforcement, but decided to shut down due to what happened in other media. “Can we work on “safe news” ? I don’t even know what a “secure information” »editor-in-chief Daisy Li, also a former president of the HKJA, told reporters.
Hong Kong has long been considered, due to its great autonomy from Beijing, as a bastion of press freedom in Asia and many international media had established their regional headquarters there. But the climate for the press has deteriorated considerably with the repression that followed the popular mobilization of 2019. A draconian national security law, imposed by Beijing in 2020, has become the main instrument of suffocation against dissent.
In June, the pro-democracy journal Apple Daily had closed after the freezing of its assets and the arrest of its leaders.
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Hong Kong: a third media forced to close its doors