Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said that the Stand News raid was justified amid a wider crackdown against dissent in the semiautonomous city. She told reporters that "inciting others... could not have been condoned under guise news reporting."
Anthony Blinken, the U.S. Secretary, called on Hong Kong authorities for release of the detainees. Melanie Joly, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, said that her country was deeply concerned by the arrests of Denise Ho, a Canadian citizen activist.
A charge sheet shows that national security officers filed one count of conspiracy to publish a seditious newspaper against Patrick Lam and Chung Puikuen, who were former editors at Stand News. The police also stated that they would pursue the company for sedition.
According to police, the cases were brought to West Kowloon's courtroom on Thursday. Lam could not attend court as he was at the hospital. Both were denied bail
They have been taken into custody to continue questioning. These include Ho, Margaret Ng (ex-lawmaker), and four other former members of Stand News. Ho was released on Thursday afternoon from police custody.
Chan Puiman, an ex-editor at the pro-democracy Apple Daily paper and Chung's spouse, was also taken into custody. After Jimmy Lai, the publisher of Apply Daily, was arrested, Chung's wife, and other top editors were taken into custody, Apply Daily had to stop operations and its assets frozen.
Lam, the leader of Hong Kong, stated that journalism is not sedition. However, seditious acts, activities, and inciting others through other acts and actions cannot be tolerated under the guise news reporting. It should be clear what constitutes news reporting and what constitutes seditious acts or activities that undermine national security.
Blinken criticised the arrests and said that Chinese and local authorities were undermining Hong Kong's credibility and viability by suppressing independent media. A free press is a freedom-loving government that is confident and not afraid of the truth."
Freedom of expression, including media freedom, is crucial to secure and prosperous societies. These freedoms allowed Hong Kong to thrive as a global centre for finance, trade and education.
Joy tweeted that freedom of expression and media are fundamental cornerstones of democracy, and that they are essential for the protection of fundamental freedoms. She also stated that Canada would continue to condemn violations of these freedoms in partnership with international allies.
Stand News announced Wednesday that it was ceasing all operations and had laid off all of its employees.
Following the election of five members of the Hong Kong legislative council, the United States sanctioned five Hong Kong-based Chinese officials for violating Hong Kong's freedoms and autonomy.
At a briefing on Thursday, Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for China's Foreign Ministry, stated that China would respond by imposing countermeasures against five Americans including ex-Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and President Carolyn Bartholomew of the U.S. China Economic and Security Review Commission.