11/05/2020, 14.02
HONG KONG – CHINA
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Hong Kong Journalists Association bemoans attempt to suppress media

by Paul Wang

Journalists back Bao Choy, a freelance reporter who investigated the beatings of young pro-democracy activists in Yuen Long by local thugs in July 2019. She was arrested for applying for information under false pretences. The arrest is exaggerated and disproportionate to the act.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) and various media trade unions held a press conference this morning to protest against the indictment and arrest of their colleague Bao Choy, from RTHK, the local public broadcaster, on charges of obtaining information from the Transport Department under false pretences.

The Association claims that the case is sad and absurd, and tantamount to suppressing the media.

Bao Choy (pictured) investigated the Yuen Long affair of 21 July 2019, when thugs, wearing white t-shirts, attacked and beat up pro-democracy activists, wearing black T-shirts, during a protest at the local Mass Transit Railway (MTR) station.

Although called to intervene many times, police arrived more than 35 minutes later. Some victims suspect law enforcement was in league with local triads.

Choy, working with security videos from stores near the MTR station, was able to recognise several members of the triads, and the parked cars used to take away the white-clad thugs.

To dig deeper for information, Bao applied to the Transport Department for the names associated with the licence plate numbers.

The application asks for motives for making the request, but none of the three options available refers to the media. Choy marked one, and now the police want to put her on trial for making a false statement on a public document.

Some journalists blame the Transport Department, which does not protect journalists’ requests. Others note that arresting a journalist for such a mistake is exaggerated and disproportionate to the act. Publicly criticising her would have been enough.

For HKJA chairman Chris Yeung, subjecting journalists to lawsuits and arrests will put them under great financial and psychological pressure.

“We hope that [this] won't become a trend, a very unhealthy, damaging trend, for people to make use of their power and resources to suppress media organisations, [in] particular those that they don't agree with," he said.

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