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Chinese gov't silences another pro-democracy media house in Hong Kong

Hong Kong media tycoon and founder of Apple Daily Jimmy Lai is surrounded by press as he leaves a police station after he was released on bail in Hong Kong in August 2020. File Photo by Jerome Favre/EPA-EFE
Hong Kong media tycoon and founder of Apple Daily Jimmy Lai is surrounded by press as he leaves a police station after he was released on bail in Hong Kong in August 2020. File Photo by Jerome Favre/EPA-EFE

Dec. 29 (UPI) -- Hong Kong police on Wednesday raided pro-democracy Stand News, arrested several staffers and shut the site down, the outlet said -- in the latest move to crack down on dissent under China's national security law.

More than 100 police officers raided Stand News with a warrant on Wednesday. Police left six hours later with 33 boxes of evidence and froze $7.8 million of the company's assets.

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Within hours of the raid, Stand News announced that it would shut down immediately, delete its social media pages and website and dismiss all employees.

Those arrested were charged with suspicion of conspiring to publish seditious material and face up to two years in prison and fines, according to police. Former Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai was charged on the same count on Tuesday.

Senior official Steve Li accused Stand News of publishing inflammatory content intended to incite hatred toward government.

Hong Kong official John Lee called Stand News leaders "bad apples who are abusing their position simply by wearing a false coat of media worker," according to The New York Times.

Critics and dissenters in Hong Kong have been targeted by the controversial anti-terrorism law since Beijing lawmakers passed it in June 2020. Lai's pro-democracy paper, Apple Daily, was forced to close after similar police raids.

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