This statement was originally published on ifj.org on 23 April 2021.
Bao Choy Yuk Ling, a freelance producer with Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK), was convicted on April 22 of “making false statements” to obtain government data for her investigative report. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) strongly condemns Hong Kong authorities’ use of legal action to target members of the press.
Choy was charged with two counts of “knowingly making a false statement” to obtain car license plate records from the government’s database. The 37-year-old was fined HKD $6,000 (USD $773) on April 22 for the offenses to which she pleaded not guilty.
The data was used for an episode of RTHK’s documentary programme, Hong Kong Connection, that exposes the Hong Kong police’s delayed response to a mob attack on pro-democracy protesters and civilians in Yuen Long, Hong Kong on July 21, 2019.
The prosecution of Choy has shocked Hong Kong media, as it had been a common practice for journalists to obtain government data when reporting.
The court, however, determined on April 22 that Choy had used the data for her report instead of the “traffic and transport related purposes” justification that Choy provided to authorities for permission to access the data and was therefore punishable.
The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) and seven other media groups and trade unions have issued a joint statement to express their indignation. The statement also warned that the legal attack on freedom of the press sends a chilling message to Hong Kong’s media.
HKJA Chair, Chris Yeung said, “Reporters should not be held criminally responsible for exposing information for the public good. It is a dark day for the press and a day of shame for Hong Kong.”
The IFJ said: “The IFJ strongly condemns the Hong Kong authorities’ use of legal action to target members of the press over reporting that is critical of authorities. Press freedom must be respected and Hong Kong’s judiciary must be fair and free from political interference.“
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Source: MEDIA FEED