HKJA is greatly concerned over journalists’ travel documents being retained by authorities as a consequence of aiding National Security Department investigations

After the 1st July 2021 incident of Leung Kin Fai committing suicide in the wake of his attack against a policemen at Causeway Bay, a large number of journalists were on site when that happened, with HKPF approaching several of them afterwards, including one who caught the moment of the incident during live broadcast.

That journalist, accompanied by a HKJA-arranged lawyer, recorded a statement the following day at Wan Chai Police Headquarter with an officer from Commercial Crime Bureau, which was in charge of the investigation at the time.

HKPF promised that all contact with the journalist would be made through the lawyer and HKJA informed beforehand, while indicating that the journalist was only helping the investigation.

However, we subsequently learnt that on 26th July at 11pm, officers from the National Security Department of HKPF arrived at the temporary home of the journalist without contacting the lawyer, for another statement at the police station.

The journalist, accompanied by a National Security Department officer, called the lawyer and stated his service would not be required. During the statement recording, only one friend of the journalist accompanied him/her. The journalist was then taken to his/her home for a searches.

HKPF did not live up to their promise to inform the HKJA. HKJA, upon learning of this incident, voiced displeasure immediately and negotiated for the lawyer to support the journalist. Following conversations, the lawyer was allowed to see the client on 27th July at 1am at Chai Wan Police Station.

To HKJA’s knowledge the journalist was still aiding the investigations, yet recorded a caution statement, with the National Security Department utilizing their power to detain his/her travel documents.

HKJA has to reiterate the journalist is only performing his/her duty when recording the suspected occurrence of the alleged crime, and had fulfilled the responsibility as a citizen to help HKPF investigations. Such action should be recognized instead of mistreated.

HKJA urges the HKPF to inform the public whether the journalist was only helping the investigation. If yes, why was the journalist’s residence searched and travel document detained?

Moreover, would any witness bear the risk of handing over travel documents in the future?

HKJA reiterates that the matter is akin to threatening all journalists in Hong Kong. How can a journalist work fearlessly if recording events will make himself/herself as a suspect?

Government officials have repeatedly said that National Security Law will only affect ‘a minority of citizens. HKJA would like to reiterate that the actions of the National Security Department was in fact the opposite of this statement, as all journalists in Hong Kong are not only affected, but threatened by it.

HKJA urges the HKPF to respond to our concern, and call for colleagues to keep their eyes on the matter to defend our own rights.

Hong Kong Journalists Association
27 July 2021

HKJA response to Hong Kong Police Force arrest of former media agency staff