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Hong Kong journalist acquitted of criminal charges in rare victory for media freedom

An award-winning Hong Kong journalist on Monday won an appeal quashing her conviction related to work on her investigative documentary in a rare court ruling upholding media freedom in the territory.

Bao Choy was found guilty in April 2021 of deceiving the government by getting vehicle ownership records for journalistic purposes after she had declared in her online application that she would use the information for “other traffic and transport related issues”.

The investigative journalist had been trying to track down perpetrators of a mob attack on protesters and commuters inside a train station during the massive anti-government protests in 2019 for her documentary.

At the time, Choy was fined 6,000 Hong Kong dollars (€714) for two counts of making false statements at that time, a ruling that sparked outrage among local journalists over the city’s shrinking media freedom and which Choy herself described as “a very dark day” for Hong Kong journalists.

But on Monday, judges of the city’s top court unanimously ruled in the journalist’s favour in a written judgement, quashing her conviction and setting aside the sentence. She said she hoped the outcome would be encouraging news to all reporters still working hard in the city.

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