The chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, Chris Yeung, described the arrest of an RTHK producer on Tuesday as “shocking”, and accused authorities of “exhausting every possible way” to make life difficult for journalists who are trying to uncover the truth.
Sources said Bao Choy was arrested for making a false declaration while conducting licence plate searches involving vehicles seen picking up men suspected of being involved in the July 21 mob attack in Yuen Long.
Speaking to RTHK, Yeung said the arrest sends a “very bad message” regarding press freedom as Choy had gathered the information “entirely for public interest” and not for personal gain.
“I think authorities are now exhausting every possible way to suppress the press, to make it difficult, if not impossible, for reporters to do their job to dig out the truth, to publish stories that make them [the authorities] feel embarrassed”, he said.
Yeung said he believes the arrest will put a lot of pressure on other journalists in the territory, who may be deterred from conducting similar background checks in future.
“The immediate question is whether reporters will still be comfortable, say, to do regular vehicle licence checks, as they have been for years, because there is now a risk they may face charges”, he said.
In a separate statement, the association also called the arrest “unreasonable and absurd”, and demanded Choy’s immediate and unconditional release.