A reporter from the Beijing-backed Ta Kung Pao newspaper was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly fighting in public with localist Edward Leung in August.

Police confirmed they arrested a Ta Kung Pao reporter surnamed Lo, 42, in Chai Wan on Tuesday. The Organised Crime And Triad Bureau – a police unit – is investigating the incident. Apple Daily cited sources saying that Lo has since been released on bail.

Edward Leung Tin-kei. Photo: Cloud.

Officers arrested Leung at his residence on Friday. They also visited Lo at his home on the same day, but the reporter was out at the time, Ming Pao reported. The police subsequently contacted Lo, who promised to report to a police station.

Leung was released unconditionally about four hours after his arrest. The localist, represented by a lawyer, rejected the police bail offer. He told RTHK that he gave testimony and took part in an identification parade at the police station.

Police typically press charges against suspects for fighting in public as soon as they have sufficient evidence, but they took extra caution in handling the present case as it involves “politically sensitive” persons, Apple Daily reported. The paper cited sources as saying that the force would be seeking legal advice from the Department of Justice again before taking follow-up action.

Leung was being followed by reporters from pro-Beijing newspapers during August.

Ta Kung Pao front page on August 15. Photo: HKFP.

The activist allegedly quarreled with the Ta Kung Pao reporter in Tai Koo station on August 13. Leung previously said the reporter hit him first, and described the action of the reporter as part of the “political machine.”

The pro-Beijing Wen Wei Po newspaper said the incident lasted about six minutes. Leung said his shirt was damaged, while Lo reported the incident to the police the next day, accusing Leung of assault.

The video footage also showed the reporter grabbed Leung’s phone and threw it away.

Under the Public Order Ordinance, the offence carries a maximum penalty of HK$5,000 fine and a 12-month jail term.

Ellie Ng

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.