Four people, including at least two Hong Kong journalists, were sent to jail in Shenzhen for running an illegal business, after they sent copies of their political magazines to the mainland.
A court in Shenzhen said the four received prison sentences of up to five years each.
The journalists were Hong Kong magazine publisher Wang Jianmin and editor Guo Zhongxiao, who were arrested in Shenzhen in 2014. They published New Way Monthly and Faces, which revealed high-level struggles in the Communist Party.
It’s unclear whether the other convicted people were Hong Kong residents, or what role they played at the publications.
Wang’s lawyers said their clients were not running a mail-order business and had sent only eight copies of the magazines to friends.
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Hong Kong has served for decades as a clearing house for information about sensitive mainland topics, and publishers once considered themselves beyond Beijing’s reach. But the situation has changed after the disappearance of five Hong Kong booksellers from the Causeway Bay firm Mighty Current booksellers.
This raises further questions about Hong Kong’s status as a free press haven for material banned on the mainland. Publishers at the annual Hong Kong book fair this month said that printers and distributors were increasingly unwilling to handle sensitive titles for fear of political repercussions.
The Independent Commenters Association and the Hong Kong Journalists Association voiced concern in a joint statement. They said Beijing has selectively targeted Wang and Guo, as well as Mighty Current and a third publisher called Morning Bell Press, to “clean the origin” of mainland political gossip in Hong Kong.