The reporter who recorded the incident live belongs to an online news outlet. Accompanied by the lawyer of the HKJA, the reporter gave her testimony to the police at the Police Headquarters on the following day. The police said they will contact her through her lawyer if necessary, and will also notify the Journalists Association. Her role, according to the police, was to “assist in the investigation”.
However, at 11 pm on July 26, 2021, without making contact through the lawyer, the national security police arrived at the temporary residence of the reporter and demanded yet another testimony at the Police Headquarters.
Accompanied by national security personnel, the reporter then called her lawyer, only to tell the lawyer that their presence was not needed at the police station.
The reporter gave another testimony to the national security police and was only accompanied by a friend. The reporter was taken to her original residence for the police to “collect evidence”. The police also confiscated the travel document of the reporter.
The police had also not contacted the HKJA as promised. After learning of the incident, the Association immediately contacted the police to express their disapproval. After much deliberation, the HKJA lawyer was finally able to arrive at Chai Wan Police Station to accompany the journalist at 1 am July 27.
As the HKJA learned, the journalist’s role is still to “assist in the investigation”. However, she has now already given a cautioned statement, and the police have confiscated her travel documents. Furthermore, the documents are detained under the authority of the National Security Department.
The HKJA stresses that a reporter who recorded a suspected crime being committed on live video is only carrying out their duty as a journalist. The reporter had also carried out their civic duty of assisting the police investigation and should receive only recognition, rather than the treatment this journalist had received.
The HKJA demands an immediate explanation from the police, whether the reporter involved is only “assisting in investigation”. If so, why did the police search her residence and confiscate her travel documents?
Following the above, do future witnesses or potential witnesses also risk having their travel documents confiscated?
The HKJA stresses that this incident is equivalent to a threat against all journalists in Hong Kong. If merely recording an incident could turn a journalist into a suspect, then how can journalists perform their work with peace of mind?
Government officials have said multiple times that the National Security Law only “affects a small handful of people”. However, the acts of the National Security Department here are entirely contrary to the words of the officials. Because of it, all journalists in Hong Kong have been “affected”, even “threatened”.
HKJA calls for the police to respond immediately to the incident. The association also calls on all journalists to follow the incident, to safeguard the freedom of the press and our own rights.
Source: Hong Kong Journalists Association