Bao Choy
Video producer Choy Yuk-ling is seen outside a Hong Kong court in April 2021, when she was convicted on charges of giving false statements. On June 5, 2023, Hong Kong's highest court overturned the conviction. (Reuters/Pak Yiu)

CPJ welcomes overturning of Hong Kong journalist Choy Yuk-ling’s conviction, urges end of media persecution

New York, June 5, 2023—In response to a ruling by Hong Kong’s highest court on Monday to overturn the conviction of journalist Choy Yuk-ling, also known as Bao Choy, on charges of giving false statements, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following the statement calling on authorities to end their targeting of independent journalism:

“We welcome the Hong Kong court decision to quash the conviction of journalist Choy Yuk-ling. It’s high time for the Hong Kong government to stop persecuting the media and drop all criminal cases against journalists for their work,” said Beh Lih Yi, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “Press freedom is constitutionally guaranteed in Hong Kong. No journalists should be criminally charged, let alone convicted, for their reporting.”

Choy was convicted in April 2021 on two counts of giving false statements to obtain car ownership records on a public registry while researching a documentary for Hong Kong’s public broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong about a mob attack on a group of protesters. The court fined her 6,000 Hong Kong dollars (US$765).

In unanimously overturning her conviction on Monday, June 5, a panel of five judges at the Court of Final Appeal ruled that when Choy chose “other traffic and transport related matters” to search the public registry, that category should not exclude “bona fide journalism.

Separately, on Sunday evening police detained Mak Yin-ting, a correspondent with French broadcaster Radio France Internationale and former chair of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, while she reported on public attempts to commemorate the 34th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, according to the HKJA, a report by the journalist in RFI, and news reports. She was released after a few hours without charge.

CPJ has documented the dramatic decline of press freedom in Hong Kong, once a beacon of free press in the region, since Beijing introduced a national security law on June 30, 2020, with journalists being arrested, jailed, and threatened.

Among them include Chung Pui-kuen and Patrick Lam, editors of the now-shuttered news website Stand News, who are on trial for conspiracy to publish seditious publications.

Jimmy Lai, founder of the shuttered pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily and CPJ’s 2021 Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Awardee, is facing life imprisonment on national security charges in a trial that is due to start in September. Lai, a British citizen, is serving a sentence of five years and nine months on fraud charges. He has been behind bars since December 2020.