Hong Kong police accuse outspoken head of journalists’ union of ‘impediment’

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The head of the Hong Kong journalists’ union has been charged with hindering a police officer from performing their duties amid an ongoing crackdown on government critics under the national security law.

“I just got a call from the police asking them to go to the Mong Kok Police Station today so they can file a formal case against me,” Ronson Chan, chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists’ Association (HKJA) said in a statement. his Facebook page. on Monday.

Chan arrived at the police station at 3:30 p.m. local time and left after half an hour, after being formally charged with “impeding official duties”.

He will appear before the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court on September 22.

Chan, a former deputy command editor at the now-defunct pro-democracy news outlet Stand News, was re-elected as HKJA chairman in June.

He has spoken out many times against the shrinking press freedom in the city.

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He planned to study journalism at the Reuters Institute at the University of Oxford on a scholarship and was due to leave Hong Kong at the end of September.

It is unclear whether Chan will now be allowed to leave to take up the stock as planned.

Chan told reporters outside the police station that he would seek legal advice on the case.

“I need to get legal advice on how to do that,” he said. “[The police] also asked me if I would be leaving the country at the last minute.”

“I told him I planned to spend six months [overseas] and he said he would inform the court,” Chan said. “It was strange that he asked me out of the blue while I was waiting for them to process my bail.”

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Measure of declining press freedom

Chan said his arrest, which was criticized at the time by the city’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club, was indicative of the current state of press freedom in the city.

“I’ve heard a lot of things since my arrest, but I haven’t been able to verify them, so I won’t name them now,” Chan said. “It would be ridiculous if I couldn’t go to the UK because of this.”

“I think it’s clear what environment Hong Kong journalists are working in from this incident.”

The FCC said at the time of Chan’s arrest that it “supports journalists’ right to cover stories without fear of harassment or arrest.”

The statement won a rebuke from China’s foreign ministry, which said it constituted “interference with the rule of law” in Hong Kong and that absolute freedom of the press did not exist.

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The HKJA said Chan was arrested after officers alleged he failed an ID check while at a location as part of a journalistic assignment.

“Just as Ronson Chan was about to show his ID to one of the female police officers, another plainclothes officer stepped forward and yelled at him to ‘cooperate,'” the HKJA said in a statement at the time.

“Chan asked the police officer to show his warrant card and asked the officer to confirm his full name and department as he could only see the last name Tan,” the statement said.

“But the officer immediately issued a warning and within minutes had Chan under arrest in handcuffs, on his way back to Mong Kok Police Station.”

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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