Police In Hong Kong Have Detained A Veteran Journalist On Suspicion Of Sedition  

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According to authorities and local media, Hong Kong‘s national security officers arrested a senior journalist and former contributing writer for the now-defunct liberal media organization Stand News on Monday for alleged sedition.

Several significant media sites, including the Apple Daily newspaper and the Stand News online news portal, have been raided by police and closed down as part of a crackdown on the media based on sedition legislation dating from the British colonial era, as well as a China-imposed national security law.

The local police force’s national security section said in a statement that a 54-year-old man was arrested for “conspiracy to print seditious publications” and detained for further investigation.

Allan Au, a seasoned journalist and academic at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, was recognized by local media as the individual who penned columns for newspapers such as Ming Pao and the now-defunct Apple Daily.

Au could not be reached for comment by Reuters right away.

Sedition is not included in a broad national security statute enacted by Beijing in June 2020, which punishes terrorism, collusion with foreign forces, subversion, and secession with life sentences.

However, subsequent court decisions have allowed authorities to use the new legislation’s authority to invoke rarely used colonial-era sedition provisions.

When asked about Au’s detention, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said at a press conference that she would not comment on specific cases, but that press freedom was protected by the city’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association expressed “deep concern” and said the arrest risked “further damaging Hong Kong’s press freedom.”

Au, who was known for his critical columns, is a former Knight Fellow at Stanford University.

“I once wondered whether I could keep writing till 2047, but it’s a delusion in the end,” Au wrote in one of his last published columns, referring to China’s constitutional promise under the Basic Law to keep Hong Kong’s freedoms and autonomy intact for 50 years until 2047.

“We still haven’t reached 2047, but 2047 has arrived before our very eyes,” Au wrote.

Au’s detention adds to the growing list of journalists who have been targeted since the security bill was passed. 

In December, two former top editors of Stand News were accused of conspiring to publish and/or reproduce seditious materials.

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