Press freedom groups have condemned the harassment and surveillance of local journalists, after an HKFP court reporter was followed from her home to her workplace for over an hour by two men with earpieces on Wednesday.

hkfp reporter followed man

The duo tailed the reporter during morning rush hour, despite efforts to board and alight different trains.

One of them refused to answer questions, or reveal his identity, when confronted by a second staff member at an MTR station.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) told HKFP it was unacceptable to put reporters under surveillance in connection with their work: “We strongly condemn any attempt to harass or intimidate journalists… Women are also more likely to face risks of being stalked or harassed. No reporter should face disproportionate risks due to their gender.”

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Cedric Alviani, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) East Asia Bureau Director, also condemned the incident: “We are concerned by the fact a Hong Kong Free Press reporter was ostentatiously followed in broad daylight by an unidentified individual, and insist that journalists should at all times be able to work freely and without fear of harassment. Hong Kong, once a bastion of press freedom, has plummeted from 80th place in 2021 to 148th place in the 2022 RSF World Press Freedom Index, marking the index’s sharpest drop of the year.”

Police report

The incident was reported to the police on Thursday.

“After initial investigation, the case is classified as ‘Request for Police Investigation’,” the Force said in response to HKFP’s enquiries. “Investigations are still on-going.”

Police did not respond when asked if the suspects were known to the Force, nor did it reply when asked if it would condemn the harassment and surveillance of reporters.

The HKJA urged the Force to take the incident seriously: “Police should protect journalists from harassment and intimidation so they can report the news knowing that their safety is guaranteed.”

Editor’s note: HKFP management reserve the right to publish full, candid videos of any individual who harasses or surveils staff members – all such incidents will be reported to the authorities.

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Tom is the editor-in-chief and founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications and New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Al-Jazeera and others.