Beijing true enemy of freedom: Taiwan’s top diplomat

Statement by Joseph Wu comes after police raid offices of Stand News, arrest 7 of its staffers in Hong Kong.

ISTANBUL (AA) – China is a “true enemy” of freedom, Taiwanese top diplomat said on Wednesday hours after police raided the offices of a news outlet and arrested at least seven of its staffers in Hong Kong.

“More savage attacks on media outlets daring to report the news — just another day in the PRC’s (China) Hong Kong! The erosion of press freedom under the National Security Law is a disgrace and sends a clear message: Beijing is a true enemy of freedom,” Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said on Twitter.

His statement came after Hong Kong police early today arrested at least seven people, including three men and four women, over “conspiracy to publish seditious material.”

The raids were carried out at Stand News office and Steve Li, senior superintendent of Hong Kong Police National Security Department, said the arrested people held “important roles in the company’s editorial direction and strategy.”

Soon after, the news outlet announced ceasing its operations.

Steve Li said a court warrant was executed and during the raid, around 200 cops confiscated computers, mobile phones, and cash worth $64,133.40.

Assets worth $7.8 million of the publishing house were frozen. The news website of the news outlet has stopped working.

“Majority of (assets) was transferred to Stand News in a concealed manner,” Li alleged.

Stand News was accused of publishing “seditious materials” between the enactment of the controversial security law in June 2020 and this November with an “intent to cause hatred towards the government, the judiciary and cause discontent among the public, which may lead them to disobey the law or the government’s orders.”

In a brief statement on its Facebook page, Stand News said Hong Kong police arrested a number of its senior and former senior officers besides seizing a number of computers and some documents from its office.

Those arrested include former and acting chief editors of Stand News, Chung Pui-kuen, and Patrick Lam.

Former and current Stand News board members, including Denise Ho, Margaret Ng, Christine Fang, and Chow Tat-chi, are also among those arrested. The identity of the seventh person has not yet been revealed.

“According to the circumstances, Stand News immediately ceases to operate, including the website and all social media content will be removed within days,” the news outlet said.

Many people of the news outlet have been taken away by the police “to assist in the investigation,” the statement added.

It added its staff chief editor has stepped down while its staff was disbanded.

Earlier in June, the popular Apple Daily newspaper office was raided by police after China imposed controversial national security law last year.

The law followed year-long anti-government protests against the now-binned extradition bill. Ever since many people, dubbed as pro-democracy by western governments and media, were jailed, including Apple Daily owner Jimmy Lai.

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