A woman has been accused of taking photos inside a courtroom during a hearing related to the clearance of the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy protest site in Mong Kok.

The court was handling the cases of Siew Yun-long, Man For-on, Yung Yiu-sing, Chan Pak-tao and Lou Tit-man, who pleaded not guilty to contempt of court charges. But during the hearing, Mr Justice Andrew Chan said he received a complaint that a woman had taken photos in the courtroom.

According to Ming Pao, the woman stated that she was “Chinese,” with a Hong Kong identity card but no permanent residency. She said her mother tongue was Mandarin, but insisted on speaking in English, and claimed to be working in the legal sector.

The woman suspected of taking photos inside a court room.

According to Apple Daily, the woman said she thought it was a public hearing and declined to answer the judge’s questions without a lawyer.

The clerk took her phone to Chan after the judge asked her to hand it over.

The woman said it was a minor incident, and asked if barristers inside the courtroom would help her. The barristers shook their heads and refused as they were witnesses.

Chan disagreed that it was a minor incident. He said it was serious considering similar recent cases, and as it was unclear what photos the woman took.

Chan allowed the woman to leave the court to find a lawyer, but said she must return to the court by 4:30pm and cannot leave Hong Kong, or an arrest order will be issued. The judiciary has reported the case to the police.

File photo: inmediahk.net.

The court then resumed at 4:45pm. According to Stand News, she told the judge that she saw legal representatives eating and drinking in the court. Asked by the judge why did she mention it, she said she was not asking for punishments for the legal representatives, but the judge should point out other people’s mistakes too.

The judge has postponed the case to Friday to await the opinion of the Department of Justice. Her phone was confiscated and the judge suggested that she hire a lawyer.

After she reported back to the court, the woman, who identified herself as “Miss Tang,” was accosted by reporters as she was leaving the courthouse. Asked what her motives were in taking photos, she said: “everything should be transparent.”

She added: “today I want to say I am here on behalf of the public, not on behalf of either of the parties, okay?”

The woman was not allowed to leave Hong Kong. She entered the Island Shangri-La hotel after leaving the court.

During a recent trial related to the Mong Kok unrest, two incidents emerged of people allegedly taking photos inside the courtroom. The first took place in February, when a man claiming to be a mainland tourist was found taking photos inside the courtroom and uploading them onto social media.

Less than two weeks later, another Mandarin-speaking man was accused of taking photos during the same trial. At the time, the judge said the incident might be a misunderstanding and jurors had no need to be concerned.

However, last Friday, the judiciary’s complaints office received an email from an unidentified person containing a photo of four of the jurors.

Update 17:30: This piece was updated with the woman’s comments to reporters. 

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.