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Lesbian pop star arrested in Hong Kong

Denise Ho released after raids against pro-democracy media outlet

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Denise Ho Wan-see (Screenshot via CBC)

Chinese and Hong Kong government authorities last week held a series of raids targeting Stand News, a pro-democracy media outlet, arresting staff and current and former board members including out Canadian Denise Ho, all charged with conspiring to publish seditious materials.

In a press conference held last week, Steve Li, senior superintendent of the Police National Security Department told reporters that over 200 national security police officers were deployed to raid the Kwun Tong offices of the non-profit online outlet the Hong Kong Free Press reported.

Ho, a former board member was arrested at home. She was among at least seven others detained including Stand News deputy assignment editor and head of the Hong Kong Journalists Association Ronson Chan, acting chief editor Patrick Lam and former democratic legislator Margaret Ng.

Li also related during the press conference that the arrested individuals held “important roles in the company’s editorial direction and strategy.” During the newsroom raid, officers found computers, mobile phones and HK$500,000 ($6412) in cash, he said, adding that other arrest warrants have been issued.

According to Li, Stand News was publishing “seditious materials between the enactment of the security law last June and November 2021 with intent to cause hatred towards the government, the judiciary and cause discontent among the public, which may lead them to disobey the law or the government’s orders.”

The Hong Kong Free Press noted that Li added “such articles were typically written by people who were arrested or in self-exile overseas who acted as bloggers for the platform, Li said. Some were also exclusive interviews with such figures, where interviewees described how they lobbied foreign officials to impose sanctions without reservation.”

In the case of Ho, the singer-actress-activist was released and tweeted to her followers; “Thank you friends for all your kind messages, I have been released on bail and have returned home safely.”

Ho, whose full name is Denise Ho Wan-see,  is a Hong Kong-based Cantopop singer and actress. She was born in Hong Kong but was raised in Canada and is a Canadian citizen. The 44 year-old is also a pro-democracy and Hong Kong human rights activist.

She came out in 2012, rare for a celebrity in Hong Kong, and began her political activist in 2014 as a member of the student-led Umbrella Movement. In addition to participating in street protests and rallies against an aggressively worsening situation for pro-democracy supporters targeted by the Hong Kong government under pressure by the regime of Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, Ho became a global voice for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.

In an action that angered Hong Kong’s top leader, Carrie Lam, who was appointed by the Beijing government of Xi, Ho spoke to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva in July 2019 to seek support and protection for Hong Kong’s residents. She also requested that China be removed from the council.

In a related announcement another pro-democracy news outlet in Hong Kong announced that it was ceasing operation on Sunday. (Monday in Hong Kong time.)

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