The FCC Condemns the Prosecution of Journalist Bao Choy
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong strongly condemns the prosecution of Bao Choy, the former RTHK journalist convicted on Thursday for her use of a public database in the course of reporting a documentary.
The government’s actions against Choy set a dangerous precedent. They open the door to further legal action against journalists for engaging in routine reporting. They will also deter journalists from accessing legally available public records in Hong Kong.
Although Choy will not go to jail, she will be left with a criminal record and be forced to pay an HKD 6,000 (US$774) fine for only doing her job. In delivering her verdict, the judge accused Choy of misrepresenting herself and asked her to find other ways to seek the information she needed for her report.
However, the government has narrowed the categories of who could access the data in question and why. It is clear that Choy was singled out and punished for a search that is routinely conducted by journalists in Hong Kong. Choy’s documentary investigated the actions of police during an attack on protesters and commuters that took place at the Yuen Long MTR station on July 21, 2019.
While we appreciate that the judge overseeing the case spared Choy jail time, citing the merits of her reporting and the public interest involved, we wish the prosecutors had shown similar restraint and never brought this case in the first place.