Another Hong Kong news outlet shuts down, citing fears for employee safety

HONG KONG – Hong Kong’s online independent publication Citizen News said its decision to shut down was triggered by the closure of a pro-democracy media outlet last week after a police raid and seven arrests.

Stand News, a well-known pro-democracy news site, was shut down last week after 200 police officers searched its newsroom, frozen their assets and arrested seven people on suspicion of conspiracy to publish inflammatory materials.

Citizen News announced on Sunday that it would cease operations on Tuesday, described the media environment in the Chinese-ruled city as “deteriorating” and referred to the need to ensure the safety of staff.

“The decision was made within a short time. It was triggered by the fate of Stand News, ”Citizen News chief writer and past president of the Hong Kong Journalists Association told reporters Chris Yeung.

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

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Citizen News was founded in 2017 and described itself as independent, non-party and promoted freedom, openness, diversity and inclusion. It had 40 employees.

Hong Kong returned under Chinese rule in 1997 with a promise to protect wide-ranging individual rights, including a free press. But human rights groups and some Western governments say freedoms have been undermined, especially since Beijing passed a national security law on Hong Kong in 2020.

Hong Kong’s government denies targeting the media and restricting freedoms in the global financial center. China says the 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 resulted in the closure of jailed tycoon Jimmy Lai’s Apple Daily newspaper.

Two former senior editors of Stand News were charged on Thursday with rioting plot and were refused bail.

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

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