Hong Kong journalists charged with conspiracy to publish 'seditious' content: police

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Two members of Hong Kong news outlet Stand News have been charged with 'conspiracy to publish seditious' material (AFP/Daniel SUEN) (Daniel SUEN)

Two members of a Hong Kong news outlet were charged with "conspiracy to publish seditious" material on Thursday, police said, a day after a raid on pro-democracy publication Stand News.

China has tightened its control of Hong Kong since massive and sometimes violent pro-democracy protests engulfed the city in 2019, and suppression of the local press has also ramped up.

Police burst into the Stand News office in the latest crackdown on Wednesday, seizing phones, computers and documents and taking away its editor-in-chief.

The Hong Kong Police's National Security Department said in a statement that "two men, aged 34 and 52 respectively, and an online media company" had each been charged "with one count of conspiracy to publish seditious publication."

Local media reported the pair were acting editor-in-chief Patrick Lam and former editor-in-chief Chung Pui-kuen.

Both men were arrested on Wednesday morning along with five others.

Stand News later said it would shut down operations with the incident drawing international condemnation.

"Journalism is not sedition," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

"By silencing independent media, PRC and local authorities undermine Hong Kong's credibility and viability," he added, referring to the People's Republic of China.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Thursday said she agreed with Blinken's sentiment that "journalism is not sedition" -- but added that seditious acts "could not be condoned under the guise of news reporting".

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