U.S. Department of State
Department Press Briefing – June 17, 2021
NED PRICE, DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON
JUNE 17, 2021
HONG KONG EXCERPTS
QUESTION: I wanted to – hi. I wanted to ask you about a couple of things in Asia that are not related but (inaudible) press freedom. There was a raid by the Hong Kong police on the Apple Daily and arrest of executives. If you have any reaction to that.
And in Burma/Myanmar, we understand that American citizen journalist appeared before court today – Danny Fenster. What is the (inaudible) on that? There are also reports that the U.S. embassy had not been informed about his appearance. If you could attest to that. Thanks.
MR PRICE: Well, on your first question, Shaun, on the arrest of the Apple Daily employees, I’ll say that we strongly condemn the arrests of five senior executives from Apple Daily and their parent company, Next Digital, and we call for their immediate release. We are deeply concerned by Hong Kong authorities’ selective use of the national security law to arbitrarily target independent media organizations. The charges of, quote, “collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security” appear to be entirely politically motivated. We deplore the reported assertion by a Hong Kong police official that articles published in Apple Daily are evidence of what they call the, quote, “conspiracy to collude with foreign forces.” As we all know, exchanging views with foreigners in journalism should never be a crime.
We are concerned by increased efforts by authorities to wield the national security law as a tool to suppress independent media, to silence dissenting views, and to stifle freedom of expression. These actions undermine Beijing’s obligations, their own obligations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, which is a binding international agreement, to uphold Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and protected rights and freedoms. We call on authorities to stop targeting the independent and free media. Efforts to stifle media freedom and to restrict the free flow of information not only undermine Hong Kong’s democratic institutions but they also hurt Hong Kong’s credibility and viability as an international hub.