Police are seen in Hong Kong on April 26, 2020. Police recently arrested two journalists for alleged loitering. (Reuters/Tyrone Siu)
Police are seen in Hong Kong on April 26, 2020. Police recently arrested two journalists for alleged loitering. (Reuters/Tyrone Siu)

Hong Kong police arrest 2 reporters for alleged ‘loitering’

On April 28, 2020, Hong Kong police arrested two Next Magazine reporters at Pik Shui Sun Tsuen, in Clear Water Bay, on allegations of loitering, according to news reports.

Three or four police officers in two cars arrested a Next Magazine journalist and photojournalist while one was at a bus stop and the other was nearby, after they had finished reporting on alleged illegal housing structures at the home of the assistant police commissioner, according to Apple Daily, a newspaper that also belongs to Next Magazine’s parent company, Next Digital.

The journalists’ names were not released in those reports. Last year, Apple Daily obtained an injunction from the High Court last September prohibiting disclosure of personal details of its staff, citing doxing threats, according to news reports and the newspaper.

The Hong Kong Police Force issued a statement on its Facebook page saying that “the Police attended to the incident in response to a 999 call from a member of the public and made the arrest based on reasonable suspicion.”

The officers handcuffed the reporter and brought both journalists to the Tseung Kwan O Police Station; en route, the reporter told Apple Daily that one of the officers aggressively questioned him, and another officer asked if he knew the residence belongs to a “very important person.”

At the station, officers interrogated the duo separately, reviewed the photos taken by the photojournalist, and made photocopies of the journalist’s notepad before releasing them without charge, according to the Apple Daily report.

Next Magazine issued a statement condemning the arrests, which it called an abuse of power intended to intimidate the reporters from investigating senior police officers’ wrongdoings.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association issued a statement calling for further explanation of the arrests and disputed the police force’s claim that the reporters could not offer a “reasonable explanation for their presence” in public areas.

In response to CPJ’s email requesting comment, the police public relations branch told CPJ to refer to the statement on its Facebook page.