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6 January 2022

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has affirmed on Jan. 4 that the closure of news outlets does not mean that press freedoms are under threat in Hong Kong.

This statement follows the closure of pro-democracy media outlets Stand News and Citizen News , South China Morning Post reported.

Stand News’ offices were raided by Hong Kong police officers, while the government froze $8 million in assets owned by Stand News, within 10 hours of the raid, all staff were laid off, Star Observer reported.

Popstar and former board member Denise Ho was arrested alongside six other editors and board members, although all but two editors have subsequently been granted bail, according to the Star Observer, all were accused of conspiring to publish seditious material, Reuters reported.

On Jan. 3, Citizen News, another independent, pro-democracy outlet, also closed, telling its employees that the forced closure of Stand News demonstrated a deteriorating environment for press in the Chinese-run city, Reuters reported.

Carrie Lam argued that the “closing of two media outlets” was not sufficient evidence that press freedoms were deteriorating, stating that news outlets can report freely as long as they “do not engage in illegal acts.”

There has been international backlash over the end of Stand News, with Canada’s foreign minister singling out the arrest of Denise Ho, a Canadian citizen, as being of particular concern, the Star Observer reported.

Carrie Lam has criticised the West for their response, claiming that it undermines the rule of law, and that the West does not understand Hong Kong’s laws, South China Morning Post reported.

A hearing for former editor-in-chief Chung Pui-kuen and acting editor-in-chief Patrick Lam is scheduled for Feb. 25.

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Stuart Jeffery, aka LibertyDownUnder, is the founder of the Australian Liberty Network. He is also the host of the Gumtree of Liberty and Gumtree of Liberty Live podcasts, and is editor of the Liberty Review. Stuart is currently studying a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts, majoring in international relations, at the University of Southern Queensland.

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