Hong Kong police charge two former pro-democracy editors with sedition, deny bail

Hong Kong authorities on Thursday denied bail to two former editors of a pro-democracy media outlet who were arrested and charged with sedition.

On Wednesday, more than 200 police raided Stand News, one of the last remaining publications critical of the Hong Kong government, and charged the parent company, Best Pencil Limited, and six staff with conspiring to publish seditious materials.

Four staff members were released on bail, but chief editor Chung Pui-kuen and acting chief editor Patrick Lam are still being detained, Reuters reported from Hong Kong.

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The world was quick to criticize the police raid and detention of the journalists as suppression of free speech. Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenPutin, Macron to hold call on Friday amid rising Russia-Ukraine tensions Meeks leading bipartisan trip to Ukraine amid Russia tensions Negotiating with a liar (Putin's dog is a cat)  MORE said he was "deeply concerned by the closure of Stand News and related arrests in Hong Kong."

"A confident government that is unafraid of the truth embraces a free press," he tweeted on Wednesday. "We call on the Hong Kong authorities to stop targeting the independent media and release those unjustly detained."

The raid and subsequent arrests forced the closure of Stand News, which was only months behind a similar raid that forced the shutdown of pro-democracy media publication Apple Daily.

Last year, the Hong Kong government passed a national security law that gave the government more power to prosecute, oversee and manage nonprofits, news media publications and protest groups.

The law followed months of historic protests that sometimes turned violent. Citizens were protesting the mainland Chinese government's increasing influence over Hong Kong, which was handed over from the United Kingdom to Beijing in 1997 as a semi-autonomous special administrative region.

Following the raid, Facebook and Twitter accounts for Stand News were deleted.

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"Stand News’ Twitter account exists only in our memories now," tweeted Fight For Freedom, Stand With Hong Kong, a pro-democracy group.