Press Releases in Hong Kong

Foreign countries blasted for meddling

Stand News acting chief editor Patrick Lam Shiu-tung, second from left, is arrested by police officers in Hong Kong, Dec 29, 2021. (VINCENT YU/AP)

Central and SAR government officials on Thursday blasted some foreign countries for meddling in Hong Kong's affairs under the pretext of so-called human rights and freedom when they criticized the city police's arrests of seven people over seditious publications.

The police's actions against the Stand News, an online media, and relevant individuals are actions of justice to safeguard national security, having nothing to do with the suppression of press freedom, the officials said.

On Wednesday, the police's National Security Department arrested seven people for alleged conspiracy to publish seditious publication and froze HK$61 million ($7.8 million) in assets of the online media outlet. The arrestees include six former executives of the online media company and one former executive of the now-defunct tabloid Apple Daily.

The Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong SAR in a statement expressed its firm support for the SAR government's law enforcement actions to crack down on activities that endanger national security in accordance with the law.

The spokesperson pointed out the media outlet is a political organization in essence, noting that it not only distributed seditious publications during the social unrest in 2019, but also persisted with its anti-China stance even after the implementation of the National Security Law for Hong Kong in 2020.

In a separate statement, a spokesperson of the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region noted that the external forces repeatedly smeared Hong Kong's judicial justice and freedom of the press under the pretext of "standing with Hong Kong". They used the so-called freedom as a shield to embolden the anti-China forces in Hong Kong, in an attempt to seek extralegal privileges for them so that they could continue to disrupt Hong Kong's prosperity and stability.

Laying bare the "typical hegemony and double standard "of the West, the spokesperson said that the United States and some other Western countries pretend to care about the freedom of the press in Hong Kong, but turn a blind eye to the use of press freedom as a political tool in a selective way at home.

In meeting with the media on Thursday morning, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor also weighed in, stressing that seditious activities cannot be condoned under the guise of news reporting.

Some Western media organizations, which were ill-informed about Hong Kong's law and the evidence of the case, trample on the rule of law of Hong Kong by demanding the release of those arrested, Lam said.

Lam said the police's actions were purely law enforcement based on evidence and the law, which had nothing to do with press freedom and was not targeting any specific media organization with a particular political stance.

As part of the government's efforts to continue to perform its constitutional duty to safeguard national security, Lam said her administration will strive to roll out the consultation and discussion of Article 23 legislation before her term ends on June 30,2022.

Eighty-nine lawmakers-elect in the city also expressed their full support of police actions in a joint statement, saying that no one can override the law and that journalism is not an excuse to evade legal responsibility.