Hong Kong: Stand News’ former editor-in-chief Chung Pui-kuen, 52, was brought to West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts on Thursday afternoon after being detained by police overnight. His co-defendant, 34-year-old Patrick Lam – who recently stepped down as the acting chief editor of the independent news source – did not make an appearance owing to health reasons.
The two editors are among several people who were arrested by the police on Wednesday on suspicion of allegedly violating the colonial-era Crimes Ordinance.
Among the other arrestees were prominent barrister Margaret Ng, Cantopop singer Denise Ho, Christine Fang and Chow Tat-chi, who were former directors of Stand News. They were released on police bail in the late afternoon on Thursday without charge, said the publication.
Best Pencil (Hong Kong) Limited – which owns Stand News – as well as Chung and Lam stand accused of conspiring together, and with others, to publish or reproduce seditious publications, according to the police charge sheet.
The arrest draws criticism from the West with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying that journalism is not sedition.
“The Hong Kong government’s Wednesday raid and arrest of seven senior staff at Stand News have forced yet another of the few remaining bastions of free and independent media in Hong Kong to cease operations. Journalism is not sedition,” Blinken said on Wednesday.