The commissioner of Foreign Affairs Ministry office in Hong Kong has slammed the Foreign Correspondents Club (FCC), over what it said was “smearing” of the national security law and urged it to refrain from siding with people who threaten national security.
The FCC in a statement on Monday had condemned the arrest of Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai and police raid on the daily’s offices, saying it was “a direct assault on Hong Kong’s press freedom”.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the ministry's representatives in the city said the club was using press freedom as a pretext to heap “groundless accusations upon the National Security Law and law-enforcement efforts of the Hong Kong police, and tried to whitewash and justify Jimmy Lai and other criminal suspects”.
“Eagerly justifying Jimmy Lai is nothing short of siding with the forces sowing trouble in Hong Kong and China at large,” it said.
The spokesperson said the “rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents, including the freedom of the press, are safeguarded under the National Security Law”.
“With over seven decades of presence in the city, the FCC … knows it very well that press freedom is fully cherished here,” the statement said.
“It should also be clear that there is no such thing as absolute press freedom above the law anywhere in the world, and that it is totally unacceptable to interfere in China's internal affairs and undermine China's national security and Hong Kong's stability under the pretext of press freedom,” it said.
'FCC using press freedom ploy for smear campaign'
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