Defunct independent Hong Kong news outlet Citizen News has removed all of the content from its website and social media platforms, as the online publication marked a year since it ceased operations. A former editor has confirmed the move, saying the company was winding up.

Citizen News website statement
The content on Citizen News’ website has been replaced by a statement on January 4, 2023. Photo: Screenshot, via Citizen News.

The closure of non-profit Citizen News on January 4, 2022, came days after police officers from the city’s National Security Department raided the newsroom of Stand News and arrested seven people linked to that independent media platform, causing it to shutter.

Citizen News said it was closing to protect the safety of its staff. Chris Yeung, chief writer at the outlet, told reporters at the time they could no longer gauge where “legal boundaries” lay.

When HKFP attempted to access the Citizen News website on Wednesday, its home page had been replaced by a statement from “the Citizen News team.” Direct links to the outlet’s articles were also inaccessible.

“We have never forgotten our original intent. Sadly, we can no longer strive to turn our beliefs into reality without fear because of the sea change in society over the past two years and the deteriorating media environment,” the statement, which was published when the outlet closed, read.

citizen news presser
Daisy Li and Chris Yeung of Citizen News speak to reporters on January 3, 2022. Photo: RTHK/Facebook

The Facebook and Instagram pages of Citizen News became unavailable, while on Twitter just four tweets remain about the closure of the outlet.

Internet archive Wayback Machine showed that the content on the Citizen News website was accessible on Monday.

Daisy Li, who formerly worked as Citizen News’ chief editor, confirmed with HKFP that they had removed such content and the reason was “the company has to close down eventually.”

She added that they chose this date to do it as it marked the one year anniversary for Citizen News’ cease of operation.

Press freedom in Hong Kong

Citizen News was the third major media outlet to close after Beijing’s implementation of the sweeping national security law in Hong Kong, following Apple Daily and Stand News.

The collapse of independent newsrooms has drawn criticism from international media watchdogs, including Reporters Without Borders and International Federation of Journalists, over the situation of press freedom in Hong Kong.

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Former chief executive Carrie Lam denied at the time that such closures would have a “chilling effect” on Hong Kong’s media industry. Her successor, former security chief John Lee, has also maintained that the city enjoys press freedom and therefore there was no need to defend it.

See also: Explainer – The decline of Hong Kong’s press freedom under the national security law

A poll last year found that Hongkongers’ satisfaction with press freedom and media outlets in the city had dropped to a record low.

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Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.