Joe Biden’s Secretary of State Antony Blinken went to Twitter Wednesday to express his concerns about the Hong Kong government’s actions in raiding and closing down a pro-democracy media organization there.
Blinken wrote that he is “deeply concerned” by the actions taken against Stand News. He said that a confident government should support a free press if it is not afraid of the truth. He demanded that the Hong Kong government release the persons “unjustly detained” by the raid and stop aggressing against the independent media.
Wednesday saw the national Hong Kong police force raid the local office of the media outlet and arrest seven people found on site.
The independent outlet announced on its Facebook page that it had dismissed all employees and stopped all operations due to the government raid. It said it would erase its social media accounts in the coming days and stop posting any updates immediately.
Through spokesman Steve Li Kwai-wah, Hong Kong’s National Security Department said that Stand News was forcibly closed because of “seditious” material published in recent months. The raid comes as China has imposed a national security law on nominally independent Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong Journalists Association stated the raid, saying that it is “deeply concerned” about journalistic materials’ arrests, searches, and seizures. It went on to ask the Hong Kong government to follow “Basic Law” to protect press freedom.
Chief Secretary of the Hong Kong government John Lee said Wednesday that the raid was necessary because Stand News and other outlets are “bad apples.” He noted that some organizations are falsely claiming to be journalists. Lee said it is against the country’s law for any organization to use the media as a “tool to pursue their political purpose.”
Lee went on to say that outlets like Stand News are “evil elements” that damage press freedom. He urged “professional media workers” to understand that organizations that disobey government rules are “wearing a false coat” journalism.