Journalists’ organizations condemned the arrest of an Apple Daily photographer, who was accused of assaulting the police in Mong Kok on Thursday night.
The Hong Kong Journalists Association called the arrest of Wong Chun-lung, who was covering police operations on Sai Yeung Choi Street South, “an escalation of anti-media actions in police operations”, RTHK reported.
Wong was wearing a press badge when he was confronted by police officers, pinned to the ground and put on handcuffs, Apple Daily reported. He was taken to the North Point police station and held for several hours.
Another Apple Daily photographer, Lam Po-yik, was accused by a police officer of attempting to take his gun.
Lam said he told the officer that he could not have touched his gun as he was holding a camera with both hands. After that, he saw Wong being taken away by several officers, nowTV reported.
According to a video footage taken by Apple Daily, Wong was pressed to the ground by at least six officers and was put on handcuffs. Other reporters who tried to cover the incident were pushed away by the officers. [Go to video] (Chinese only)
When asked why Wong was being arrested, one of the police officers shouted, “None of your business!”
The officer who said Lam was trying to take his gun, also yelled at the reporters: “I warn you, don’t try to touch my gun again!”
A police spokesperson later said a man surnamed Wong repeatedly hit a police officer’s face with his handheld camera. The man refused to be arrested and a police officer injured his right arm in the process.
Wong was accompanied by at least 50 police officers when he was taken to the police station.
Around 80 Next Media staff and reporters from other news organizations gathered outside the North Point police station at around midnight, calling for Wong’s release.
Wong was released at 2:45 a.m. on Friday on a bail of HK$1,000. He said police have yet to press any charges against him, but was asked to report back to the police station at the end of December.
Wong told reporters that he was only shooting a video of the police operations and denied he tried to attack any of the officers. Hundreds of police officers were deployed in Mong Kok Thursday night to prevent pro-democracy activists from returning to the area.
Apple Daily chief editor Cheung Kim-hung said he hoped the police will handle the case impartially, noting that reporters were only doing their job and wearing press badges for easy identification while covering news events.
The Next Media staff union and the Hong Kong Press Photographers Association also assailed the violent manner by which police arrested Wong.
Hu Liyun, Hong Kong representative of International Federation of Journalists, said she will report recent incidents of police arresting reporters to the organization, which has representatives from 120 countries.
Such incidents will affect Hong Kong’s press freedom ranking, Hu added.
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