Journalist Bao Choy convicted over her investigation into the Yuen Long triad attackers
The journalist will have to pay HK$ 6,000 for requesting information from the Transportation Department under false pretence. The journalists' union decided to pay the fine. "Today is a very dark day for all journalists in Hong Kong, not just for me personally ... it's a ruling on journalism in Hong Kong. The court ruled that searching for public information or access to public data is no longer allowed in Hong Kong,” Bao said. Suspicions hang over links between organised crime and police in the attack against protesters and passengers in Yuen Long.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – Bao Choy, a freelance journalist with RTHK, Hong Kong’s public broadcaster, was fined HK$ 6,000 (US$ 775) for trying to trace the owners of vehicles through the Transport Department database under false pretence.
According to security camera footage, a group of hooligans arrived in certain vehicles with weapons and canes used to beat pro-democracy protesters and passengers at the Yuen Long MTR[*] station on 21 July 2019.
The verdict was delivered today at the West Kowloon Magistrates' Court. Bao Choy was accompanied by a group of colleagues holding banners that read “Journalism is not a crime” and “Who wants the public kept in the dark?”
Upon leaving the court, Bao Choy met with a hundred journalists and supporters. "Today is a very dark day for all journalists in Hong Kong, not just for me personally ... it's a ruling on journalism in Hong Kong," she said. "The court ruled that searching for public information or access to public data is no longer allowed in Hong Kong,” she added.
Visibly moved, Bao Choy explained that the conviction puts journalists' work at risk and throws mud at her documentary, as if that was not true.
In fact, the documentary that was broadcast on RTHK[†] before the security law won this year's Kam Yiu-yu Press Freedom Award, although RTHK’s new management, closer to Beijing, declined to accept it.
To show their solidarity with Bao Choy, the journalists' union decided to pay the fine.
During her research for the licence plates of suspects’ vehicles, the 37-year-old journalist ticked a reason box that said “traffic and transportation related matters”.
The other two options available when accessing the database were “legal proceedings” and “sale and purchase of vehicle”. She did not find the option “other purposes” or it was not available.
The fuss over Bao Choy's so-called false statement risks overshadowing the Yuen Long incident and the suspicious links between the police and organised crime groups in connection with the punitive attack against pro-democracy protesters.
On that day, many protesters were dressed in black, and were on their way back from a protest downtown; the attackers were dressed instead in white T-shirts.
After the journalist's documentary aired, the police conceded that some plainclothes officers were at Yuen Long but did not intervene to protect the victims from the beating.
In addition, reports indicate the 999 official emergency telephone number was inundated with calls and that it took more than 40 minutes for police to respond.
Later, the police accused some of the victims of “rioting” and took some into custody.
After Bao Choy's arrest on 3 November 2020, law enforcement authorities presented another version of events, claiming that the incident had been a “fight between two equally-matched sides”.
In August 2020, triad members were arrested, but as some observers noted, they caught the small fry, not those behind the attack.
Photo: Apple Daily TV
[*] Mass Transit Railway.
[†] Radio Television Hong Kong.