US calls on Hong Kong to cease targeting free and independent media journalists News
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US calls on Hong Kong to cease targeting free and independent media journalists

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken Wednesday called on the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Hong Kong to release several arrested journalists.

After Hong Kong authorities raided Stand News and arrested seven senior staff members, Blinken released a statement asking that the PRC and Hong Kong stop targeting free and independent media. The statement also requested that the “unjustly detained and charged” journalists be released. Blinken claimed the arrests adversely affected one “of the few remaining bastions of free and independent media in Hong Kong” by forcing Stand News to cease publishing. He added, “Journalism is not sedition.”

In support of the request to release the journalists, Blinken stated, “Freedom of expression, including media freedom, and access to information provided by an independent media are critical to prosperous and secure societies . . . . By silencing independent media, PRC and local authorities undermine Hong Kong’s credibility and viability. A confident government that is unafraid of the truth embraces a free press.”

These arrests follow a recent wave of free press infringements in China. Earlier this month, the Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ) reported a global high of arrests of journalists, listing China in the top five world’s worst jailers. The report attributed China’s imprisonment numbers to stringent media regulations and described Hong Kong’s 2020 National Security Law as “draconian.”

The security law received international condemnation for violating the city’s autonomy after more than 100 pro-democracy politicians, journalists and activists were arrested under its provisions. Just two weeks ago, a Hong Kong judge sentenced an activist to prison for holding a vigil commemorating the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.