HK press associations condemn arrest of journalists carrying out investigative reporting in Clear Water Bay

30-Apr-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 10:58 AM Print This Post

Two associations representing Hong Kong journalists have condemned the arrest of two reporters outside a private property, saying they were conducting investigative work related to a senior police figure.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association and the Hong Kong Press Photographers Association issued a joint statement late on Tuesday night after officers arrested two Next Magazine journalists for loitering, one of whom was handcuffed when taken to a police station.

The force said it responded to an emergency call from a member of the public, and insisted that both suspects were released after investigation and clarification.

On Tuesday, two Next Magazine journalists visited Pik Shui Sun Tsuen in Clear Water Bay, Sai Kung, at around 4.30pm, reportedly to gather information for a story related to assistant police commissioner Rupert Dover.

They were arrested at the scene after officers asked them what report they were working on, although they were wearing their press cards and identified themselves as journalists, according to a statement published by the two associations based on information provided by the magazine and its sister publication, Chinese-language newspaper Apple Daily.

At Tseung Kwan O Police Station, officers went through their notes and camera, the statement read.

The associations demanded the force explain the reasons for the arrest after the journalists identified themselves on the scene, adding that officers “had no grounds” to search their notes without a court order.

They asked the force to follow up on the incident and issue an apology.

The force said on Wednesday that anyone who felt they were treated unreasonably by officers could file an official report with the Complaints Against Police Office.

Next Magazine is owned by media group Next Digital. Its founder Jimmy Lai Chee-ying was arrested earlier this month along with other opposition figures for taking part in unlawful protests during last year’s anti-government movement.

The magazine slammed police for threatening their journalists and obstructing their investigation.

Dover, one of the police commanders handling the months-long anti-government movement, has been a victim of doxxing by protesters.

A report published in Next Magazine accused him of illegally living in a squatter settlement or licensed structure in Clear Water Bay. The report suggested Dover was not the original owner and speculated that he had no family links with the owner, and therefore he should not be able to live there under the law.

A Lands Department spokesman confirmed the address reported was covered by a government land licence, which restricts the holder from transferring the licence or subletting the structure, but the spokesman did not give any information about the occupant.

About an hour before the associations’ statement, police said in a Facebook post that officers, acting on a 999 call, had found both journalists at the scene. They were not residents of the village and could not offer a reasonable explanation for their presence there, the post said.

They were released after their identities were verified at the police station, the force added.

Referring to the magazine’s earlier statement that the reporters were taken away without reason, the force’s statement said: “Police sternly dismiss such accusations as totally false and express deep regret.”

Apple Daily published an article on Wednesday suggesting Dover had a side business in air-conditioning.

A check by the Post confirmed Dover was a founding member and the biggest shareholder of Voltage Stabilisers International (HK) Limited as of November last year.

The Civil Service Bureau said employees must obtain approval to run a side business but would not comment on individual cases.

Certain senior-grade police officers must declare their private investment interests to their department heads every two years, it added.

Police said officers could have private investments but should follow strict regulations and guidelines to avoid conflicts of interests.

The force added they would take action if any officers were involved in illegal activities or regulation breaches.


Category: Hong Kong

Print This Post