The West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court on Monday sentenced the head of the Hong Kong Journalists Association Ronson Chan to five days in jail, according to the Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP). As this decision is at the magisterial level, the official opinions will not be published until 2024.
Chan was found guilty of obstructing a police officer as he refused to present his identity card to a plainclothes police officer while reporting in Mong Kok last September. Chan pleaded not guilty to the charge of obstructing a police officer in May after being arrested for purported uncooperativeness in presenting his identity card to the police officer. While Chan stated that he was concerned about privacy breaches as his identity card had been previously shown on a live stream, Magistrate Leung rejected the possibility that the police officer would have breached his privacy as the police officer did not possess equipment which would expose Chan’s identity card then.
Chan’s counsel suggested for Leung to fine or sentence Chan to community service instead of imprisoning him. Nonetheless, Leung stated that a fine or community service order would be insufficient in reflecting the gravity of Chan’s offence. She held that a short period of imprisonment was suitable punishment for Chan. While Leung did not find Chan remorseful for his actions, she reduced Chan’s sentence from seven to five days in light of Chan’s good character and his contributions to the Hong Kong media industry.
Chan’s sentence has fueled concern about press freedom in Hong Kong. Previously in July, the Hong Kong Journalists Association wrote that Hong Kong’s press freedom score had dropped four times in four consecutive years. It also stated that press freedom in Hong Kong has deteriorated since 2019.