A vocal pro-democracy website in Hong Kong shut down Wednesday after police raided its office and arrested six current and former editors and board members in a continuing crackdown on dissent in the semi-autonomous Chinese city. Stand News said in a statement that its website and social media are no longer being updated and will be taken down. It said all employees have been dismissed. The outlet was one of the last remaining openly critical voices in Hong Kong following the shuttering of the Apple Daily newspaper, which closed after its publisher, Jimmy Lai, and top editors were arrested and its assets frozen, the AP reports.
Police raided Stand News' office earlier in the day after arresting the six, including popular singer and activist Denise Ho, a former board member, on charges of conspiracy to publish a seditious publication. More than 200 officers were involved in the search, police said. They had a warrant to seize relevant journalistic materials under a national security law enacted last year. A Facebook post early Wednesday morning on Ho's account confirmed that she was being arrested. A subsequent message posted on her behalf said she was OK and urged friends and supporters not to worry about her. That post drew nearly 75,000 likes and more than 5,000 comments, mostly from supporters.
Early Wednesday, Stand News posted a video on Facebook of police officers at the home of a deputy editor, Ronson Chan. Chan, who is also chair of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, was taken away for questioning, the organization confirmed in a statement. Chan, who was later released, told media the police seized his electronic devices, bank cards, and press card. Benedict Rogers, co-founder and CEO of the non-governmental organization Hong Kong Watch, said the arrests are “nothing short of an all-out assault on the freedom of the press in Hong Kong." "When a free press guaranteed by Hong Kong’s Basic Law is labeled 'seditious,’ it is a symbol of the speed at which this once great, open, international city has descended into little more than a police state," he said.
(Read more Hong Kong