The national security unit of the Hong Kong police force have confiscated the travel documents of a reporter who filmed a knife attack on an officer. The attacker stabbed himself to death immediately following the incident on July 1.
The double-stabbing – on the 24th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule – took place outside the SOGO department store in Causeway Bay, one of the city’s busiest shopping interchanges.
Top security officials have described the knife attack, in which the officer was seriously injured, as “domestic terrorism” and have hit out at people trying to commemorate the death of the attacker at the scene of the incident.
The reporter — who filmed the incident live for Secret China, a Chinese-language American online media outlet — was asked to give statement as a witness at Wan Chai police station on the night of the attack. At that time, she was accompanied by a lawyer arranged by the Hong Kong Journalists’ Association (HKJA), the group said in a statement posted to Facebook in the early hours of Tuesday.
At around 11pm on Monday, national security police visited the reporter at her temporary residence and requested that she give additional statements at a police station, the HKJA said. In the presence of national security police officers, she made a call to her lawyer and gave instructions that their service was not needed. She instead gave statements in the company of a friend, according to the Association.
Police then took her to her home and searched the premises for evidence, also in the absence of a lawyer. After the HKJA became aware of the situation, a lawyer arranged by the association arrived at Chai Wan police station at about 1 am and was present when the reporter gave a statement “under caution” to police.
In a Facebook post, the HKJA said the police insisted the reporter was there to “assist an investigation,” but that she was made to give a statement under caution which would be admissible in court. They also confiscated her travel documents and barred her from leaving the city.
According to the HKJA, the police action breached an earlier promise in which they promised to inform the group — which is assisting the reporter — should they need further assistance from her.
The Implementation Rules for Article 43 of the national security law provides that police may only with a warrant confiscate travel documents belonging to a person under investigation over suspected violations of the security law.
In their statement the HKJA said: “HKJA must emphasise that when a reporter filmed a suspected crime as it happened during a live stream, they are merely fulfilling their duty as a reporter. The person concerned fulfilled their duty as a citizen to assist the police investigation. Their effort should be recognised and should not be treated as such.”
“HKJA demands the police explain whether the reporter is indeed ‘assisting an investigation,’ and if so, why was her home searched and her travel documents confiscated?”
Update 20:55: The police told HKFP that the Secret China reporter is subject to a national security law investigation and her travel documents were confiscated under a security law warrant as a suspect. Police also searched the 56-year-old woman’s house, took other items including mobile phones and computers under the warrant issued by a designated judge. No arrest has been made and the case is being “actively investigated.”
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