Security Secretary Chris Tang on Friday accused the online media Stand News of running what he called "biased, smearing and demonising" reports about the authorities' smart prison initiative.
Stand News recently featured complaints from asylum seekers about the way they were treated in the Tai Tam Gap Correctional Institute, the first smart prison in the city.
The security chief said about 300 out of 14,000 non-refoulement claimants were being detained at Tai Tam Gap and another facility.
He said they were held at detention centres, "not a refugee camp, a rehab centre or a hotel", and dismissed suggestions of mistreatment.
"What we are doing is try to facilitate the living of the detainees inside the institution. I think everything is in compliance with the laws of Hong Kong," he said.
Stand News said in response that it insists on reporting the truth, adding the media's responsibility is to monitor those in power and present the views of different stakeholders in society, especially the voices of the disadvantaged.
"We firmly believe that only by [ensuring] sufficient free speech and free press and allowing pluralistic views can a society improve and achieve long-lasting peace," it wrote in a statement.
Meanwhile, the security minister was also asked whether pollsters would be violating election laws if they offer the options of blank votes or not voting when asking people about their voting preference in surveys.
The Wen Wei Po newspaper earlier suggested that it could be seen as inciting people to cast blank ballots in the Legco elections.
"It all depends on individual circumstances... If anyone has an intent and an action to commit an offence, they will be subject to investigation and if evidence is available, we will proceed with arrest and charge. But if someone has no intention... and they do not have any action to commit an offence, there is nothing for them to worry," he said.
Meanwhile, Tang voiced support for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department's policy to capture and kill wild boars in urban areas.
They aren't "cute little pigs people watch on cartoons" but animals that would attack people, he said.
Last updated: 2021-12-03 HKT 20:31