Hong Kong veteran journalist Allan Au was arrested by national security police on Monday morning, local media reported. A source close to the matter confirmed the arrest with HKFP.
iCable, Now News, and Sing Tao cited sources saying that Au was arrested for allegedly conspiring to publish seditious materials, under colonial-era anti-sedition legislation. The former two outlets reported that Au’s arrest was linked with the Stand News case.
The 54-year-old journalist, who worked as a senior producer at TVB News and a radio host on RTHK, was also a columnist for outlets including Stand News and Ming Pao. Au was fired from RTHK in June last year amid a government-directed editorial overhaul.
As a Chinese University professional consultant at the School of Journalism, he specialised in “media censorship and self-censorship,” according to the university’s website. He also amassed a host of journalism awards since 1997.
When asked for a reaction by reporters following an event on Monday morning, Hong Kong leadership hopeful John Lee said that the Basic Law protects freedom of press and speech: “There has not been a change in its wording.”
Lee said that, as long as people are staying within “the legal framework,” their freedoms will be “sufficiently guaranteed.”
The police said in a statement published on Monday afternoon that officers from the national security department arrested a 54-year-old male in Kwai Chung on Monday for alleged “conspiracy to publish seditious publication.” The arrestee was not named in the statement.
Stand News case
Stand News, an independent digital media outlet with a pro-democracy slant, folded in December last year after seven people linked to the outlet were arrested.
Two people – the platform’s former editor-in-chief Chung Pui-kuen and former acting chief editor Patrick Lam – were charged under the colonial-era legislation, and both have been denied bail since the end of December last year.
Chung and Lam were set to appear in court on Wednesday as the court was scheduled to handle the prosecution’s application to transfer the case to the District Court.
The anti-sedition legislation, which was last amended in the 1970s when Hong Kong was still under British colonial rule, falls under the city’s Crimes Ordinance. It is separate from the Beijing-imposed national security law, and outlaws incitement to violence, disaffection and other offences against the authorities.
HKFP has reached out to the police for comment.