Hong Kong’s government has ordered the UK-based Hong Kong Watch to shut down its website for “endangering national security.” The move comes after the government blocked the website within the territory.
Hong Kong’s internet is not as heavily censored as China’s, meaning residents of the island can still access websites that are critical of China. However, Beijing imposed a so-called “national security law” in mid-2020 that allows the government to quash dissent and criticism.
Established in 2017 by Benedict Rogers, Hong Kong Watch monitors the human rights situation in Hong Kong.
Rogers said: “By threatening a UK-based NGO with financial penalties and jail for merely reporting on the human rights situation in Hong Kong, this letter exemplifies why Hong Kong’s national security law is so dangerous.
“We will not be silenced by an authoritarian security apparatus which, through a mixture of senseless brutality and ineptitude, has triggered rapid mass migration out of the city and shut down civil society.”
An email from the government, posted on Hong Kong’s Watch website, states that the group has been accused of “colluding with foreign forces to endanger national security,” an offense that carries a maximum penalty of a life sentence.
The email said that after investigations, Hong Kong Watch was found to be involved in “lobbying foreign countries to impose sanctions or blockade” against Hong Kong and China.
On the same day the security bureau sent the email, March 10, Hong Kong’s police chief sent the group a notice demanding the removal of its website.