Hong Kong’s Citizen News says closure triggered by Stand News collapse

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

Citizen News said on Sunday it will
cease operations from Tuesday, describing the media environment in the
Chinese-ruled city as “deteriorating,” and citing the need to ensure
the safety of its staff.

“The decision was made within a
short period of time. The trigger point was the fate of Stand News,” Chris
Yeung, chief writer at Citizen News and former president of the Hong Kong
Journalists Association, told reporters.

“We could not rule out that … we
might be exposed to some risks.”

Established in 2017, Citizen News
described itself as independent, with no 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 wide-ranging individual rights, including a free
press, would be protected. But rights groups and some Western governments say
freedoms have been eroded, in particular since Beijing imposed a national
security law on Hong Kong in 2020.

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

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

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Two former senior editors of Stand News
were charged on Thursday with conspiracy to publish sedition materials and
denied bail.

“What changed is not us, but the
outside environment,” Citizen News Chief Editor Daisy Li told reporters.

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