Cantopop star Denise Ho was arrested in Hong Kong on Wednesday, with six others, for allegedly publishing seditious materials during her time as a director of the independent news provider Stand News.
The artist, who is also a Canadian citizen, was apprehended at her home while authorities raided the offices of Stand News and arrested three men and four women, between the ages of 34 and 73, shuttering the news outlet. Stand News was one of Hong Kong’s last pro-democracy media outlets.
Those arrested are accused of “conspiracy to publish seditious material” via their work with Stand News.
More than 200 police officers were reportedly sent to raid the publications offices.
Those arrested include the former and acting chief editors of Stand News, Chung Pui-kuen and Patrick Lam. Board members Margaret Ng, Christine Fang, and Chow Tat-chi, were also detained, the BBC reported.
In a Facebook post Stand News stated that “Because of the situation, Stand News is ceasing operations immediately,” adding that, “This morning, the police arrested a number of senior and former senior staff of the company, [and] took many people away to assist in the investigation.”
Chief Secretary for Administration, John Lee said during a press conference on Wednesday in Hong Kong that “Anybody who attempts to make use of media work as a tool to pursue their political purpose or other interests [and] contravenes the law, particularly offences that endanger national security, they are the evil elements that damage press freedom.”
Ho has been a long-time contributor to the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong and has been arrested in the past for her involvement. She emerged as a defiant voice during the 2014 Umbrella Movement where she demanded wider democracy alongside thousands of other Hongkongers.
Born in Hong Kong and raised in Canada Ho once testified in the U.S. Capitol concerning reports of police brutality during protests in Hong Kong. She also served as a trustee for a now defunct humanitarian fund for arrested or injured protesters.
Sunny Cheung, one of the activists who had traveled with Ho to the U.S. to testify, told the Guardian, “Denise Ho has been the most vocal and popular artist in Hong Kong who dares to oppose Beijing.”
Due to Ho’s activism, in 2014, Ho was banned from performing on the mainland and many brands and other celebrities shunned her.
Since Ho is a Canadian citizen, her detention has the potential to further complicate Canada-China relations. Relations that were already strained following the imprisonment of the “two Michaels,” Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor who were detained in China for years following the apprehension of Meng Wanzhou by Canadian authorities at the behest of the United States government. Spavor and Kovrig were later released after Meng reached a deferred prosecution agreement with U.S. authorities.