Radio Television Hong Kong producer Bao Choy Yuk-ling won an appeal Monday to overturn her conviction for allegedly making false statements to obtain records for a documentary critical of police actions in Hong Kong's 2019 anti-government protests. File Photo by Jerome Favre/EPA-EFE
June 5 (UPI) -- A Hong Kong appeals court gave a rare victory against the government on Monday when it overturned the conviction of local journalist Bao Choy for making false statements to access vehicle records.
The five-member appeals court unanimously ruled that Choy, a former freelance producer for RTHK, was justified in citing journalism for her efforts to access the official records for a documentary she was producing that criticized police action during the 2019 anti-government protests.
A court in 2021 fined Choy $766 after it found her guilty of making false statements to get the records.
The charges centered around Choy selecting "other traffic and transport-related matters" in a Transport Department dropdown menu when accessing the information.
The appeals court on Monday, however, ruled the selection did actually cover "the serious investigative journalism undertaken here by [Choy] concerning the use of the vehicle."
"For these reasons, differing from the courts below, I would give a wider meaning to the category '[o]ther traffic and transport related matters,'" the court said in a statement. "In this case, it has not been suggested that the appellant's investigative journalism was anything other than bona fide and serious. On this footing, the statement made by the appellant when applying for the certificate of vehicle particulars was not false."
Choy and her supporters stressed that the appeals court decision would play a role in the future of press freedoms in Hong Kong, which some say have been severely curtailed since the 2019 demonstrations.
"We finally got the justice that we have fought for and insisted on for a few years," she told reporters after leaving the courtroom. "The resilience in the process, that we continuously fight for the justice that we believe in and not letting our faith be taken away by the powerful, is a very powerful gesture in such an atmosphere."