The government said on Wednesday that it was "appalled" by comments made by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) after the international press freedom watchdog warned that the national security law poses a "grave threat" to journalism in Hong Kong in its latest report.
The group ranked the SAR at 80th out of the 180 countries and territories in its World Press Freedom Index – the same position as last year, but down from 18th place in 2002 when the index was established. In its analysis, the group said the national security law allows Beijing to intervene directly to punish what it regards as “crimes against the state” and is especially dangerous for journalists.
In response, the government said the national security law applies equally to everyone here and no one is above the law.
"We are appalled by remarks made by Reporters Without Borders that seemed to suggest that people with a particular profession should be immune to legal sanctions," a government spokesman said.
"Criminals who break the law must face justice. Arrest and prosecution actions were based on facts and evidence and strictly according to the laws in force, regardless of the profession or stance of the suspects."
It also said the SAR government is committed to protecting and respecting press freedom, pointing out that the media report freely in Hong Kong.
In its analysis on Hong Kong, RSF also said RTHK is being subjected to a "full-blown intimidation campaign by the government" with the aim of restricting its editorial autonomy.
The government dismissed the claim, saying the public broadcaster is editorially independent under its charter. It added that RTHK must fulfil its public purposes such as "engendering a sense of citizenship and national identity" through its programmes.
Govt 'appalled' by press freedom report
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