Hong Kong Citizen News says shutdown was triggered by Stand News collapse


HONG KONG, Jan. 3 (Reuters) – Hong Kong’s independent online publication Citizen News said on Monday its decision to shut down was triggered by the shutdown of a pro-democracy outlet last week following a raid police and seven arrests.

Stand News, a leading pro-democracy news site, closed last week after 200 police officers raided its newsroom, froze its assets and arrested seven people suspected of conspiring to publish seditious material. Read more

Citizen News said on Sunday it would cease operations from Tuesday, calling the Chinese-ruled city’s media environment “deteriorating” and citing the need to ensure the safety of its staff. Read more

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“The decision was taken within a short period of time. The trigger was the fate of Stand News,” Chris Yeung, editor-in-chief of Citizen News and former chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, told reporters. .

“We couldn’t rule out that… we might be exposed to certain risks.”

Created in 2017, Citizen News described itself as independent, without party affiliation and promoting freedom, openness, diversity and inclusion. It had 40 employees.

Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 with the promise that many individual rights, including a free press, would be protected. But rights groups and some Western governments say freedoms have been eroded, especially since Beijing imposed a national security law on Hong Kong in 2020.

The Hong Kong government denies targeting the media and restricting freedoms in the global financial hub. China says advocacy is being used in an attempt to disrupt Hong Kong’s progress after the security law restored stability.

Stand News was the largest independent pro-democracy publication remaining in Hong Kong after a national security investigation in June 2021 led to the shutdown of jailed tycoon Jimmy Lai’s Apple Daily newspaper.

Two former Stand News editors were charged with conspiring to publish sedition material on Thursday and were denied bail.

“What has changed is not us, but the outside environment,” Citizen News editor-in-chief Daisy Li told reporters.

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Writing by Marius Zaharia; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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