Taipei, August 27, 2020 – The Hong Kong Immigration Department has denied a work visa to an editor of Hong Kong Free Press, the outlet said today in a statement that CPJ has seen.
“Denial of a work visa to a thriving local news operation bashes the most basic promise of press freedom given repeatedly by the Hong Kong government,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in Washington, D.C. “It also severely undermines Hong Kong’s status as an international city and financial center, which cannot flourish unless journalists are free to do their work.”
Hong Kong Free Press, an independent news website that has consistently covered the pro-democracy protests in the city, identified the editor as Aaron Mc Nicholas, an Irish national, and said authorities did not give any reason for denying his visa. The Immigration Department did not respond to CPJ’s email requesting comment.
Tom Grundy, HKFP editor-in-chief, said in the statement that many other news operations had been affected by “unprecedented visa delays.” He pointed out that the visa rejection could not be connected to disputes between China and the U.S., since HKFP is a local operation and Mc Nicholas is not a U.S. citizen.
In July, Hong Kong authorities denied a permit to New York Times reporter Chris Buckley, as CPJ documented at the time. CPJ has documented the steady erosion of press freedom in the former British colony.