Hong Kong’s police have sent complaint letters to the news outlets of reporters who participated in a protest at a regular press conference on Monday.

Six journalists conducted a silent protest at the start of the police media event following the arrest of two journalists last Sunday. Each person wore a helmet with a Chinese character on it which combined to read: “Investigate police brutality, stop police lies.” The staff were from Stand News, Ming Pao, RTHK, In-Media, Initium, and am730.

journalists protest
Photo: inmediahk.net.

The force cut its live feed roughly two minutes after the protest began, and cancelled the press conference entirely after the reporters refused to leave for around 20 minutes. At 5:30pm, the force briefed the public on the weekend’s incidents via a Facebook live video instead.

‘Very disappointed’

On Wednesday, Police Public Relations Branch Chief Superintendent John Tse, on behalf of the police commissioner, wrote to Stand News to complain.

“The force reiterates the goal of holding press conferences is to explain police policies, make clarifications and respond to media questions. Anyone who is unhappy with the police can file a complaint to the Complaints Against Police Office. The venue of press conferences is not a place for protest,” he wrote.

“The force is very disappointed with relevant journalists who impacted the reporting rights of other professional journalists and stripped the public of the opportunity to receive important police messages. We write to your organisation to express our disapproval,” he added.

In-Media and Initium also received the letter, according to reporters at the outlets. It is unclear if the other outlets received the same letter.

John Tse complain letter
John Tse and his complain letter. Photo: HKFP/Stand News.

In-Media said in a reply that its journalist did not interfere with the press conference and had only displayed a character on her helmet.

“Journalists at the time urged police to continue with the press conference. There was no need for the event to be cancelled,” it said.

The outlet said police have yet to respond to its multiple requests for a meeting on frontline reporting arrangements.

photojournalist Joey Kwok Stand News arrested
Joey Kwok, a freelance photojournalist working for Stand News, being arrested. Photo: Stand News.

It said frontline officers have treated its journalists aggressively.

“We hope the police will face up to the issue, admit their mistakes, improve, and not shift the blame onto members of the public,” it said.

Chung Pui-kuen, Stand News’ chief editor, said in response: “The public can come to a fair assessment of the matter.”

Hong Kong Free Press relies on direct reader support. Help safeguard independent journalism and press freedom as we invest more in freelancers, overtime, safety gear & insurance during this summer’s protests. 10 ways to support us.

fundraising fundraise banner
Kris Cheng

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.