Man arrested for punching reporters

Local | Michael Shum 21 Apr 2021

A 42-year-old man was arrested for punching two online media reporters on Friday as they covered the sentencing of pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying and founding Democratic Party chairman and veteran barrister Martin Lee Chu-ming.

The suspect was arrested in Sham Shui Po in the early hours of yesterday for common assault and is currently under custody.

The arrest came days after Lai and Lee, alongside seven former lawmakers, were sentenced to eight to 18 months in jail, with four of the defendants' sentences being suspended at West Kowloon magistrates' courts on Friday.

Outside court that day, the assailant, who was wearing a T-shirt with a slogan that translates to "Chinese will not be pushed around," started an argument with reporters at the scene.

A woman tried to stop the argument, but was unsuccessful, and the middle-aged man suddenly ran toward a reporter and punched him.

The reporter tried to escape, but the man chased after him. Another reporter who filmed the whole incident also became a victim.

The arrest came as Reporters Without Borders said the national security law threatens freedom of the press after it ranked Hong Kong 80th in a world press freedom survey, which is the same as last year.

The group pointed out that the law will allow Beijing to intervene directly in Hong Kong in order to arbitrarily punish what it regards as "crimes against the state," which is especially dangerous for journalists.

"RTHK is being subjected to a full-blown intimidation campaign by the government with the aim of restricting its editorial autonomy," it wrote.

"Nonetheless, there is resistance. It is being led by a handful of independent online media such as Citizen News, Stand News, The Initium, Hong Kong Free Press and inMedia," the group added.

On the other hand, China ranked 177 among 180 countries, as the group said Chinese authorities have tightened their grip on news and information even more since the emergence of Covid-19.

"Seven journalists are still being held for coverage of the pandemic and more than 450 social media users were briefly arrested for sharing 'false rumors' about the virus," the group said. China also continues to be the world's biggest jailer of press freedom defenders, with more than 120 currently detained, often in conditions that pose a threat to their lives, according to the group.

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