Hong Kong police have ordered an Israeli IT company to shut down a dissident website, marking the first time an overseas website has been ordered to be taken down under the national security law.
However, the 2021 Hong Kong Charter – which calls for the “liberation” of Hong Kong and an end to one-party rule – was back online late last night after being pulled down.
The charter was initiated in March by eight activists who are now in self-imposed exile, including activist Nathan Law Kwun-chung, who is wanted for breaching the national security law imposed on Hong Kong on June 30.
Last night, the police said it would not comment on individual cases, adding that it would act in accordance with the rule of law.
Earlier in the day, Law, who has been granted asylum in Britain, issued a statement on Twitter saying the Israeli IT company Wix, which is the service provider for the website, has complied with the police request upon receiving a letter on May 24. He also uploaded the police on server provider Wix, in which the police say that the website is “likely to constitute offences endangering national security” such as subversion and incitement to subversion.
Wix said it took down the website by accident.
For his part, Law said it is “outrageous” that the website might be blocked. “Because the website is hosted by a foreign corporation outside of China’s jurisdiction, it is a clear example of China’s long arm of influence under the new security law,” he said.
Law added that the incident increases the possibility of other websites and online remarks critical of China becoming “the next targets of Beijing’s censorship.”
“The Great Firewall of China is now at the doorstep of the world’s democracies, threatening the international community’s freedom of speech and expression,” he said.
Law demanded the SAR administration and police stop “stifl[ing] internet freedom.”
He also called on world leaders to defend online freedom of speech, saying online platform providers should “preserve” users’ cyber liberty and stand against Beijing’s political influence.”
The website calls for “the right to determine the future and affairs of Hong Kong,” separation of powers in government, an end to the criminalization of speech and the dropping of all charges against political exiles. It also calls for “an end to one-party dictatorship and digital totalitarianism in China,” and halting “cultural cleansing and genocide in Inner Mongolia, Tibet and Xinjiang.”
Meanwhile, the website of Hong Kong Liberation Coalition, founded by ousted lawmaker Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang, who has fled to the United States, was still not online last night.