Eight Hong Kong media groups on Monday urged Chief Executive Carrie Lam to meet them to discuss their concerns over the prosecution of RTHK's Bao Choy, saying the case against the journalist is not in the public interest and must be dropped.
In an open letter on Monday, the groups said the authorities' action against Choy has sparked fears among the SAR's journalists that they could end up in prison simply for doing their job.
Choy, 37, was charged earlier this month with violating traffic laws by allegedly making false statements when conducting vehicle registration searches. The searches were part of RTHK's attempts to trace the perpetrators of the July 21 gang attack in Yuen Long last year.
The letter was jointly issued by the Hong Kong Journalists Association, the Hong Kong Press Photographers Association, RTHK Programme Staff Union, Citizen News Staff Union, Independent Commentators Association, Journalism Educators for Press Freedom, Ming Pao Staff Association and Next Media Trade Union.
It called on the government to honour its pledge to uphold press freedom, respect the right of reporting, promote free access of information and protect the public’s right to know.
"The government should not set up roadblocks for reporters in doing searches for information. Doing so will impede journalists’ investigative reporting and cripple their role of monitoring. The case of the arrest of Ms Choy has already created a chilling effect in the media. Journalists fear they may be jailed for merely doing their work of investigative journalism," the groups said.
They demanded the charges against Choy be dropped, saying the prosecution "does not conform with public interest".
"We sincerely hope Mrs Lam will meet with us for us to express our views and find ways to allay the media’s concerns," the groups added.
Choy's case is next due to be heard in court on January 14. She is on bail in the meantime.