Hong Kong singer Denise Ho granted bail in Stand News case

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HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG, REUTERS) – Hong Kong activist and singer Denise Ho was granted bail after being swept up in a raid on now-shuttered media outlet Stand News that escalated fears over eroding press freedoms within the metropolis.

“Thank you friends for all your kind messages, I have been released on bail and have returned home safely,” the pop star wrote on her verified Twitter account late Thursday (Dec 30) night.

Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly had earlier expressed concern for Ho, a Canadian citizen.

Ho was amongst 4 former Stand News board members launched on Thursday after their arrest by nationwide safety police on sedition expenses on Wednesday.

More than 200 law enforcement officials raided the outlet’s newsroom and seized HK$61 million (S$11 million) of belongings. Hours later, the publication introduced it was folding and would delete its web site.

The collapse of Stand News was the newest blow to civil society in Hong Kong after Beijing imposed a nationwide safety legislation on town in June 2020. Since then, a few of the metropolis’s largest labour unions have disbanded, worldwide non-governmental organisations corresponding to Amnesty International have left city, and its largest pro-democracy newspaper, Apple Daily, closed below police strain.

More than 160 individuals have now been arrested by the native nationwide safety division.

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday urged Chinese authorities to cease arresting members of the media, including that “journalism is not sedition”.

On Thursday, Hong Kong’s authorities denies concentrating on the media and curbing its freedoms. Chief Executive Carrie Lam stated the motion in opposition to Stand News was aimed toward seditious exercise.

“These actions have nothing to do with so-called suppression of press freedom,” she instructed reporters. “Journalism is not seditious…but seditious activities could not be condoned under the guise of news reporting.”

The Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Hong Kong department stated in an announcement that supporting freedom of the press was an excuse “to disrupt the stable and sound-governed Hong Kong”.

Although Ho and the opposite three former Stand News board members had been launched, former high editors Chung Pui-kuen and Patrick Lam stay in custody after being charged on Thursday, the South China Morning Post reported.

Bail has grow to be a contentious situation below the anti-sedition legislation, which was little used since its preliminary enactment in 1938 till the Hong Kong authorities lately revived it.

The Court of Final Appeal dominated earlier this month that the upper threshold for bail set by the nationwide safety legislation can apply to different instances, corresponding to sedition, when expenses had been introduced by safety police.

That has deepened issues that the Beijing-drafted safety legislation will probably be used to restrict the rights of a wider group of defendants than simply these accused of violating the 4 crime outlined within the measure.

Scores of these charged below the nationwide safety legislation have been held in pre-trial detention for nearly a 12 months.

“This is a significant departure from prior practice in Hong Kong, where bail was the norm for non-violent offences,” Dr Thomas Kellogg, govt director at Georgetown University’s Centre for Asian Law, wrote in a commentary within the Hong Kong Free Press.

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