Sat, 09 Dec 2023

HONG KONG: This week, Ronson Chan, chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, was sentenced to five days jail for obstructing police officers in September 2022.

Some critics see the case as a further blow to media freedoms in the former British colony.

While covering a story, Chan was detained and handcuffed by two plainclothes officers after he failed to hand over his personal identity card.

Pleading not guilty, Chan told the court that he had asked the police to show their warrant cards before handing over his document, which all Hong Kong residents must carry.

After finding Chan guilty, Magistrate Leung Ka-kie said that a fine instead of jail would not reflect the gravity of the offense. Chan showed no remorse as he refused to consider community service instead.

However, Leung granted a US$3,800 bail to Chan after his lawyers said he would appeal. Under the terms of his bail, he could not leave Hong Kong and had to surrender his travel documents.

Speaking after the hearing, Chan said he was not surprised. "Everyone can see how the court views the case. I think justice is in our heart," he said.

He hoped journalists could "stand firm" in their duty to cover truthful news for Hong Kong and the world. It was difficult to say what impact his case would have on press freedom, he added.

No date has yet been set for the appeal.

After the adoption of the national security law by Chinese authorities in June 2020, the Hong Kong Journalists Association is now one of the few major professional groups in Hong Kong advocating fundamental rights and press freedoms.

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