Journalist ‘stitched up’ for exposing truth behind Yuen Long mob attack, says injured victim

Published (HKT): 2021.04.23 06:15

A Hongkonger who was injured in a train station attack in 2019 said a broadcast journalist convicted on Thursday over a documentary critical of the government’s handling of the incident was “obviously being stitched up.”

The injured resident, a chef by the name of So, said that journalist Bao Choy was targeted because of her involvement with the critical report. Choy, a freelance producer with public broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong, was fined HK$6,000 (US$773) in what critics said was to showcase an increasingly hard-line stance on reining in local journalists.

“It was obviously [an act of] suppressing the press. It’s like, if you expose my scars I will stitch you up,” So told Apple Daily after Choy’s conviction and sentencing.

Choy was on Thursday found guilty of making false statements for “deceiving” the authorities on a website where she obtained car ownership details for her investigative report into possible culprits of the high-profile mob attack, which took place on July 21, 2019.

She had claimed on the Transport Department website that her application to search for the car details were for “transport-related purposes,” but in fact she was using the information for her journalistic work.

So said the way he understood the matter, it was a common practice for journalists to look up car details on government portals for their reports, and that it was “saddening” to learn of Choy’s conviction for this act.

“You have never told us they can’t do it, so why is it suddenly unacceptable?” he asked. So said that he was grateful for what the RTHK documentary team uncovered, as it helped him get closer to finding out the truth.

The 30-minute episode, titled “7.21: Who owns the truth,” attempted to identify people who were involved with the attack by checking security camera footage. It won a prize at the 12th Kam Yiu-yu Press Freedom Awards 2020 this week.

Dozens of civilians were injured in Yuen Long train station when a group of white-clad perpetrators assaulted commuters with metal rods and sticks, in what became widely known as the “7.21 incident.” The city’s police force was strongly criticized for acting too slowly to stop the attack, which some people claimed was organized by pro-Beijing rural leaders in the suburb town of Yuen Long. Some of those leaders were holders of public office at the time.

The incident happened at the height of pro-democracy protests triggered by a now-shelved extradition arrangement with mainland China. The demonstrations quickly expanded into a wider movement for democratic reforms and put the city on edge for months, with often violent clashes breaking out between protesters and city police.

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