Hong Kong leader says news outlets’ closure not a sign of decline in press freedom
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday that the recent closures of two news outlets do not reflect press freedoms throughout the city.
Lam said “if they decided to cease operation out of their own concerns, I think this is nothing out of the ordinary,” adding that Hong Kong authorities do “not seek to crack down on press freedom,” according to The Associated Press.
“For none of the media outlets, we did not do anything. They were never approached by law enforcement agencies,” she also said.
Her comments came roughly a week after seven people with the pro-democracy online organization Stand News were arrested on charges of sedition. Both Stand News and Citizen News, another online site, announced days later that they would stop operating.
“We have never forgotten our original intentions, but it is a pity that the rapid changes in society in the past two years and the deterioration of the media environment have prevented us from achieving our ideals without worry,” Citizen News wrote at the time of its closure.
“As long as news outlets do not engage in illegal acts, they can continue to report news in Hong Kong,” Lam said Tuesday, arguing that “you cannot say that the freedom of press is eroded due to the closing of the two media outlets.”
Lam also claimed that 5.4 percent more local news outlets have been registered since Hong Kong’s national security law was implemented, and 9.4 percent more overseas outlets, the AP reported.
Over 100 people have been arrested since the law took effect, including journalists and pro-democracy activists, the news service added.