RTHK producer out on bail with worries of suppressed press freedom

Published (HKT): 2020.11.04 12:10

A television producer was released on bail late on Tuesday night after her arrest over the Yuen Long “721 incident” in which an armed mob assaulted dozens of commuters inside a train station in Hong Kong in July 2019.

Bao Choy, a freelance investigative journalist at the government’s Radio Television Hong Kong, is next scheduled to appear in Fanling Magistrates' Court on Nov. 10.

She is the producer of Hong Kong Connection, a documentary series aired on RTHK. Police arrested her at home on Tuesday afternoon for making false statements and violating the Road Traffic Ordinance linked to her use of information drawn from the license plate register in two episodes shown in July.

At Tai Po Police Station, where Choy was detained, colleagues from the public broadcaster gathered in front in silence to show their support of her. Some of them turned emotional when they saw Choy emerge from the police station after being granted bail.

Choy told the crowd that her arrest would raise concerns about the chilling effect created by the police force as the authorities might be trying to suppress press freedom.

“How should Hong Kong journalists handle the situation in the future? How should we handle news reports or investigative reports, especially those about the [Yuen Long 721] the incident, which involved public interests?” she said.

Having been a news worker for years, Choy said she had always abided by journalistic principles. She urged media colleagues to persevere in the values of fearlessness and unselfishness and not to let the incident affect their journalistic beliefs.

Asked whether the arrest was in retaliation for her investigation reports, Choy said she did not want to guess at the motive behind the police action, but felt that the arrest would only put pressure on press freedom and journalists.

Choy produced two highly acclaimed episodes on the notorious Yuen Long attack on July 21 last year. Those episodes involved tracing car license plates and interviewing witnesses and local residents to examine the highly controversial incident. The evidence Choy gathered revealed the police’s slow response to, and mishandling of, the mass assault case.

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