Journalist Bao Choy, whose documentary film July 21: Who owns the truth? Tracking the movements of the suspected attackers on the night of the attack, pleading not guilty to two charges of “intentional perjury” to access license plate ownership records.
Choy, 37, was fined HK $ 6,000 by a judge at the West Kowloon First Instance Court, who said the public interest aspect of her work on the film has been taken into account. These offenses carry a maximum sentence of six months in prison.
She showed a pained expression, wiping her tears from outside the courthouse, before telling reporters outside the courthouse that the verdict was disappointing and heartbreaking.
“This verdict not only affects me personally but also the entire industry and anyone who is a journalist in Hong Kong,” Choy said. “I personally do not agree with this ruling.”
“TodayThe court ruling has effectively criminalized the tools that have helped us find facts in the past, “she said.
Then, she said through her Twitter account: “I firmly believe that searching the registry is not a crime, the press is not a crime, exposing the truth is not a crime.”
The European Union offices in Hong Kong and Macao say that Choy’s accusation is “a reminder that #PressFreedom cannot be taken for granted and that laws should not be implemented in a way that hinders press activity. legal.”
Choy was sentenced the day after her program won the prestigious Kam Yiu-yu Press Freedom Award, with the highest score out of 19 nominations.
Freedom of press under pressure
“In times when press freedom is under pressure, journalists should report the truth, observe society, follow those in power and expose injustice, in the spirit of their profession,” it said. in a statement above Wednesday, adding that the award winners have shown that spirit.
Choy’s film showed police present as the attackers gathered in Yuen Long, but they delayed the response when men in white T-shirts started to attack train passengers at MTR station.
Thirty-nine minutes passed between the first emergency calls until police arrived at the Yuen Long MTR station, where dozens of people were injured and many needed treatment at the hospital, it showed.
It uses footage filmed by witnesses and security cameras – as well as number plate searches and interviews – to stitch events together, uncovering links between some attackers and attackers. Heung Yee Kuk rural pro-China committee.
Choy’s program also indicated that the men with sticks were brought into the county with specific vehicles several hours before the attack, and police did not do anything with the increase in numbers.
She was arrested after the documentary was aired in November 2020, allegedly because she used a government vehicle database for the improper purpose allowed.
Choy’s case comes amid ongoing moves to stifle public dissent and peaceful opposition in Hong Kong, amid massive democratic protests in 2019.
The persecution began to imprison peaceful protesters using public order and security laws from the colonial era, until a draconian national security law was imposed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). rulers imposed on the city. July 1, 2020 establishes a branch of China’s fearsome national security police in the city and criminalizes government criticism.
The ruling against Choy comes two days after the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Media Watch ranks Hong Kong 80th in the 2021 Press Freedom Index, with reason “totalitarian information control” from the ruling Chinese Communist Party in Beijing.
“The national security law, which the Chinese government passed in June 2020, allows them to intervene directly in Hong Kong to arbitrarily punish what they consider a” crime against the state “, is dangerous for journalists, “said the RSF, marking a steady slide in media freedom in the Chinese city from 58th in 2013 and 70th in 2018.
Report by Lau Siu Fung to RFA Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.