Taipei, February 8, 2021 — Hong Kong authorities should release journalist Wan Yiu-sing immediately, drop all charges against him, and allow members of the press to work freely and without fear of retaliatory legal actions, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Yesterday, national security officers of the Hong Kong Police Force arrested Wan on four charges of “doing an act with a seditious intention,” a criminal offense under the territory’s colonial-era sedition law, according to news reports.
Wan, who broadcasts under the name “Giggs,” hosts a show on the internet radio channel D100 that reports and comments on political issues in mainland China and Hong Kong, including on the arrest of Apple Daily newspaper founder Jimmy Lai. D100 is an independent station that has about 510,000 followers on its YouTube channel and about 59,000 followers on its Facebook page.
If convicted of sedition, Wan could face a fine of up to $5,000 Hong Kong dollars (US$644) and up to two years in jail for a first offense, and up to three years in jail for subsequent offenses, according to Hong Kong’s Crimes Ordinance.
“Hong Kong authorities’ use of sedition charges against radio host Wan Yiu-sing amounts to a government assault on press freedom and freedom of speech,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in Washington, D.C. “Wan should be freed with all charges dropped, and the government should halt its ridiculous efforts to block political criticism by journalists.”
The charges stem from comments Wan made on four shows between August and October 2020, which police allege had an intent to incite hatred or contempt towards the People’s Republic of China and the Hong Kong government, and to instigate Hong Kongers to illegally seek changes to the city’s lawful orders, according to news reports.
The Hong Kong Police Force did not immediately respond to CPJ’s emailed request for comment.
Wan felt unwell in police custody last night and has been hospitalized, according to reports. He was originally scheduled to attend a court hearing today, but it has been adjourned to February 11, according to those reports.
Journalists in Hong Kong have faced increasing repression and harassment since the passage of the new national security law on July 1, 2020, as CPJ has documented. On December 11, Hong Kong authorities charged Lai with foreign collusion under that law.