Hong Kong: RSF calls for release of freelance journalist sentenced to 15 months for “possessing offensive weapons”
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urges for the release of Hong Kong journalist Tang Cheuk-yu, who was sentenced on 22 December 2022 to 15 months for possession of alleged “offensive weapons” while covering news for Taiwan’s Public Television Service.
On 22 December 2022, freelance journalist Tang Cheuk-yu, was sentenced to 15 months for “possession of offensive weapons in a public place,” during one of Hong Kong protests. Tang was first arrested on 18 November 2019 for “unauthorised assembly” and carrying a multipurpose knife and a laser pen while filming the siege of Hong Kong Polytechnic University for Taiwan’s Public Television Service (PTS). The court acknowledged that Tang worked as a journalist at the time of the arrest.
“Carrying tools like a multipurpose knife isn’t unusual for reporters while in the field, and sentencing a journalist for possession of so-called ‘offensive weapons’ is clearly an attempt to punish him for doing his work,” says RSF East Asia bureau head, Cédric Alviani, who urges the Hong Kong government to “release Tang Cheuk-yu alongside all other journalists and press freedom defenders detained in the territory.”
Over the past two years, the Hong Kong government has been leading an unprecedented campaign against press freedom which included the prosecution of at least 23 journalists and press freedom defenders, 11 of whom are currently detained, and the forced shutdown of major independent media outlets including Apple Daily, while the climate of fear led at least five smaller media outlets to cease operations.
Hong Kong, once a bastion of press freedom, has plummeted from 80th place in 2021 to 148th place in the 2022 RSF World Press Freedom Index, marking the index’s sharpest drop of the year. China itself ranks 175th of the 180 countries and territories evaluated.