25 August 2019

Legco security panel chief regrets TV journalist ‘attacker’ tag

A senior Hong Kong legislator in charge of security has offered to make amends with a television journalist who was arrested by the police for alleged assault during a chaotic clearing of a protest site Tuesday.

Ip Kwok-him, chairman of the Legislative Council security panel, regretted having called Now TV staffer Lee Siu-lung an attacker and said he is willing to apologize, government broadcaster RTHK reported Thursday.

Ip, who belongs to the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, had said he saw Lee hit someone with a ladder.

The comment came after a police clearing operation in Mong Kok district which was marred by violence, resulting in dozens of arrests.

When shown video footage of the incident, Ip said he could not judge from a single clip whether police used disproportionate force.

However, he said he could see Lee “hitting someone” with a ladder.

The Hong Kong Journalists’ Association denounced Ip’s comments as irresponsible and inaccurate.

Stephen Chan, chief adviser to Commercial Radio Hong Kong and a former TVB general manager, said he did not see any such attack in the video, Ming Pao Daily reported Wednesday.

On Thursday, Ip said his remarks were “not very accurate” and that he is willing to apologize.

Lee, 34, was released unconditionally early Thursday after more than 24 hours in police custody.

A police spokesman previously said Lee had attacked an officer with a ladder in Mong Kok on Tuesday night, resulting in injuries to his right ankle.

Lee complained about being treated with excessive force during his subsequent arrest in which he said he was held to the ground by seven police officers.

He said he sustained injuries to his head and body and denied his camera ladder ever came into contact with any officer.

In a statement Wednesday night, Now TV condemned the police for Lee’s “unreasonable detention”, saying he had been held for more than 24 hours.

The station said it was more than enough time to complete police booking procedures. It threatened legal action. 

Police officials said they decided to release Lee after he refused to apply for bail but added he could still be rearrested and prosecuted.

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