One of Hong Kong’s TV news networks has lodged a formal complaint against the police, saying that officers treated 23 of their frontline staff in an “unreasonable and rude” manner.
On Friday, i-Cable News Executive Director Fung Tak-hung and Senior Vice President Wong Yu-fat filed a case with the Complaints Against Police Office (CAPO). The news organisation said that at least 23 of its staff were mistreated over the past five months, including being obstructed from reporting, pushed, pepper-sprayed, tear-gassed, hit with water cannon, targeted with strong flashlights, and had their gas masks pulled off.
i-Cable urged the police to conduct a fair and comprehensive investigation, and said it would not accept any violence targeting journalists or any deliberate attempt to hinder reporting. The move marked the first time that a news outlet in Hong Kong has lodged a formal complaint against the police under the company name.
Police said that it will deal with the complaint fairly in accordance with established procedures, and that the force has always respected freedom of the press and journalists’ right to conduct reporting.
Separately, freelance photographer May James – who has worked with HKFP in covering the ongoing protests – was granted unconditional release by the police on Friday. She was arrested last month for allegedly obstructing a police officer, failing to produce proof of identity and resisting arrest.
James declined to extend her bail at Hung Hom police station on Friday, and police decided to release her unconditionally.
Her lawyer Michael Vidler said that James was prepared to “seek a judgment from the court on the legality of the police action” in arresting her while she was carrying out journalistic activity.
Vidler added it would be an abuse of process for police to keep the “threat of prosecution hanging over a person’s head for an indefinite period of time,” if the police, in fact, had sufficient evidence to press charges.
Responding to earlier allegations by the police that she did not declare her identity as a journalist, James said she had taken off her mask when asked and showed her press credentials. She had also produced her ID card to the first properly uniformed officer who displayed a unique identification (UI) number on their uniform, she said.
James said she believed police arrested her because she asked for identification from the officer who asked her to remove her mask.
On October 28, James was arrested in Mong Kok following an altercation with a team of riot police. During the altercation, James could be seen asking masked officers to display their warrant cards.
Police later said they asked James for her ID card, but she “refused to comply” and was “uncooperative.” She spent more than seven hours in police custody before being released on bail.
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA), HKFP and the Hong Kong Press Photographers Association (HKPPA) all condemned James’s arrest.
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