Fearing safety of staff, Hong Kong’s independent news outlet Citizen News closes too 

Chris Yeung, the chief writer at Citizen News and former president of the Hong Kong Journalists Association and Citizen News Chief Editor Daisy pictured announcing the closure of Citizen News. Image: Tyrone Siu/Reuters.

DHARAMSALA, 4 Jan: Another independent online news portal from Hong Kong has announced that it will cease its operations from Tuesday citing “deteriorating” press freedom and fears for the safety of its staff.

“Regrettably, the rapid changes in society and worsening environment for media make us unable to achieve our goal fearlessly. Amid this crisis, we have to first make sure everyone on the boat is safe,” read a statement issued by Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Citizen News.

The development came on the heels of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Stand News outlet’s raid by the police in Hong Kong last week and its closure thereafter when China employed national security law to tighten its grip on Hong Kong yet again and this, Chris Yeung, the chief writer at Citizen News and former president of the Hong Kong Journalists Association declared impacted their decision to close down the outlet.

“The decision to close Citizen News was triggered by the early morning police raid of Stand News,” the Guardians quoted Chris Yeung as saying citing local media.

“We could not rule out that … we might be exposed to some risks,” he has said and added that “reporting fearlessly means we aren’t afraid of offending the political elite, we criticise the authorities when their policies aren’t right, we don’t shy from covering corporations due to business pressure. But it doesn’t mean we should have to sacrifice our freedom as a price.”

Additionally, last week, Bloomberg reported that “from the closure of Jimmy Lai’s Apple Daily newspaper in July to the raid, arrests and asset seizures that precipitated Stand News’s shuttering Wednesday, the global financial hub has gone from being one of Asia’s most free-wheeling media markets to one of its most regulated.”

The report noted that China jailed at least 127 journalists in 2021, more than any country in the world. 

Meanwhile, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong has said earlier today that “she could not accept suggestions that press freedom in the city faces “extinction.”

“This morning I read news about, because of the closure of online medium, press freedom in Hong Kong faces extinction … I just cannot accept that sort of allegations,” Carrie Lam has said, reports the Reuters. 

“Nothing was more important than rule of law.”

She has made the remarks while addressing a weekly news conference after the closure of the second independent online outlet, Citizen News, under her watch. 

National security law, the controversial legislation imposed on 30 June last year punishes anything Beijing considers secession, subversion, terrorism, or collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison and the law still continues to draw heavy international criticism from world leaders and right groups alike.

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