Hong Kong’s public broadcaster RTHK removes an interview with exiled pro-democracy activist Nathan Law, who is wanted by police. For Chris Yeung, Hong Kong media are sliding towards self-censorship. Jimmy Lai's return to Apple Daily is met with an ovation.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – The security law imposed by Beijing on Hong Kong is crushing freedom of the press, once considered a symbol of the former British colony.
The Hong Kong Free Press today reported that Hong Kong’s public broadcaster RTHK removed from its website an interview with pro-democracy activist Nathan Law. The latter, who is wanted by police, has fled to Britain.
Law, one of the founders of the now-dissolved Demosisto, a political organisation that backed Hong Kong’s autonomy, from his place of exile, called on foreign countries to guarantee Hong Kong’s freedom.
Such a demand is against the law under the new security legislation, which bans subversion, secession, terrorism and collaboration with foreign forces.
The interview with Nathan Law was broadcast on 31 July, part of a programme on Hong Kong’s postponed parliamentary elections. Law was one of many people interviewed. Now it is no longer possible to watch the segment.
The security law per se does not ban media from interviewing people on the police wanted list. However, since acts and activities contrary to the law are so vaguely defined that many fear they might be accused of condoning criminal actions.
For Chris Yeung, head of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, the RTHK affair is a sign that local media are at risk of slipping more and more into self-censorship.
This comes at a time when journalists are becoming the victims of violence, just as Jimmy Lai and several staff members of his Apple Daily newspaper were arrested.
In Hong Kong people reacted to the arrests by buying hundreds of thousands of copies of the newspaper, which usually has a circulation of 70,000.
Jimmy Lai, who was released on bail yesterday, went back to the Apple Daily offices where he was met with an ovation (see video).