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Hong Kong police ask foreign hosting firm to remove website


A Hong Kong pro-democracy website was temporarily taken down after police warned an Israel-based hosting company of violating national security law.

LONDON — A Hong Kong pro-democracy website was temporarily taken down after police warned an Israel-based hosting company that it had violated a national security law, after authorities in the Chinese city were trying to muzzle online discontent abroad raised concerns about the action taken.

UK-based Hong Kong opposition leader Nathan Law tweeted on Thursday that the hosting company, Wix.com, received a request from the Hong Kong Police Department to disable the 2021 Hong Kong Charter website.

He posted screenshots of the police notice, which said the site contained messages “likely to commit an offense endangering national security” to the hosting company and would be prosecuted if it did not comply.

Wix, headquartered in Tel Aviv, said the website was removed in error and has been restored.

“We have reviewed our initial screening and feel that the website should never have been taken down and we apologize,” the company said by email. “We are also reviewing our screening process to make improvements and ensure that mistakes like these don’t repeat in the future.”

Law said the site was closed for three days. The Hong Kong Police Department said it would not comment on individual cases.

By going after a foreign company hosting a website abroad, the Hong Kong police request underscores fears about the extent to which Chinese authorities are going to suppress dissent with the national security law. The law sparked waves of massive street protests in the former British colony before it went into effect last year and was used by Hong Kong authorities last month to justify freezing the assets of a pro-democracy publisher.

The 2021 Hong Kong Charter website was launched by activists who were fueling their fight between overseas Chinese against Beijing’s sweeping crackdown on the semi-autonomous Chinese city and changes to its electoral system.

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