Official doubts RTHK claim of police ripping off reporter's maskLocal | 28 Oct 2019 5:46 pm
The undersecretary for security, Sonny Au, cast doubt on RTHK's claim that a policeman had tried to rip a mask off a journalist from the station during clashes in Mong Kok.
The journalist was shoved around by an officer, and later pepper sprayed as well, while Apple Daily said one of its reporters also had her mask torn off, RTHK reports.
RTHK – which is a government department – issued a statement on Sunday expressing "extreme regret" over the incident involving its worker, condemning the "unnecessary force" used by the police and accusing officers of "violently interfering with normal reporting duties".
But Au said news reporting on the mask incidents may not have been comprehensive enough to give a full picture of what happened and officials would have to gather more evidence.
He conceded that there is room for improvement in the relationship between frontline officers and journalists, but said officers don't want to get too close to reporters at protest sites for fear of being attacked.
Meanwhile, Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting urged police to provide better training, given their "increasing hostility" towards reporters.
Lam said many frontline police appear to lack any understanding of how media organisations operate and they need to be given clearer guidelines.
The government has given assurances that journalists carrying out their duties are exempt from the mask ban introduced earlier this month under emergency powers.