A top official at Hong Kong public broadcaster RTHK has sought to access the computers and email accounts of staffers in their absence, after they questioned his request for information about an inquiry into journalist Nabela Qoser, a report said Friday.

Deputy Director of Broadcasting Eugene Fung ordered the IT department to unlock the computers and work emails of executives and other staff from the communications and programme standard divisions, Apple Daily reported.

RTHK News Homepage
Photo: Selina Cheng/HKFP

Qoser is an RTHK reporter known for her tough questioning of top government officials. She hit the headlines in July last year when she grilled Chief Executive Carrie Lam and then-police commissioner Stephen Lo over the Yuen Long mob attack

In September, RTHK reopened an investigation into her conduct at government press conferences and extended her probationary period. The move sparked renewed fears that the editorial independence of the government-funded RTHK was coming under attack.

Documents containing complaints against Qoser and relevant progress reports were stored on a separate system, and had all been submitted to the administration department.

Nabela Qoser RTHK TVB
Nabela Qoser. Photo: TVB Screenshot via Facebook.

When RTHK management asked to examine computers and emails, communications staff questioned the reason for the request and how it related to the reopened probe against Qoser, the newspaper said.

It said management did not reply but accessed the devices while staffers were out of the office last week. It is unclear how many employees were affected.

“In connection with the investigation, the Departmental Administration Unit and Information Technology Section of RTHK have not made any access to the personal computers and emails of individual staff,” an RTHK spokesperson said in a response following HKFP‘s enquiry.

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Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.