Hong Kong online news portal Citizen News will cease operations on Tuesday, making it the latest pro-democracy media outlet to fold as Beijing continues its efforts to crack down on dissent in the former British colony.
In an online statement Sunday, Citizen News said that its closure after five years in operation is to ensure the safety and well-being of its staff amid a “deteriorating media environment.”
The move comes just days after Hong Kong police raided the pro-democracy online media outlet Stand News, arresting seven people on suspicion of conspiracy to publish seditious publications. Afterward, the outlet announced its intention to close.
At a press conference on Monday, Citizen News chief writer Chris Yeung cited the crackdown on Stand News as a reason for his outlet’s closure, as it could not rule out the possibility that its employees could be exposed to legal risks.
“Journalists are also human beings. They have families and friends too,” he said. “No one wants to fall into an unsafe situation because of their work.”
“We have also wondered about whether this will be a short-term situation, but after accessing the situation, we cannot grasp how long the current situation will last and find it difficult to continue,” he added.
The outlet’s website will no longer be updated starting Tuesday and eventually be removed.
Citizen News was founded on New Year’s Day in 2017. It started with about 10 journalists, including veteran reporters who had left major media organisations to defend freedom of the press.
Its works include investigative reporting, interviews and commentary. The outlet’s staff size eventually grew to about 40.
Authorities have used a sweeping national security law to muzzle dissent in Hong Kong following anti-government protests in 2019.
Besides Stand News, last year saw jailed media tycoon Jimmy Lai’s Apple Daily pro-democracy newspaper fold with its senior editors and executives arrested under the Beijing-imposed law.
As a result of the crackdown, only a few minor pro-democracy internet media outlets remain in Hong Kong.
Category: Hong Kong