The chairman of Hong Kong’s leading journalist group has received a five-day jail term after being found guilty of obstructing a police officer.
The case has sparked concerns about the city’s declining press freedom.
Ronson Chan, chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association and a journalist at online news outlet Channel C, was arrested last September while on his way to a reporting assignment.
He was accused of refusing to show the plainclothes officer his identity card upon request.
The former British colony was promised it could keep its western-style civil liberties for 50 years when it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
Magistrate Leung Ka-kie on Monday ruled that Chan had deliberately obstructed the officer from carrying out her duty and failed to take out his identity card in a timely manner.
He kept asking the officer questions “recklessly”, she said.
Ms Leung sentenced him to five days in prison but later granted him bail pending an appeal.
Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Chan said his case could affect Hong Kong’s image but he hopes every journalist will “stand firm” in their jobs.
“Everyone sees how the court views the case. I think justice lies in people’s hearts,” he said.
Two former top editors at Stand News, where Chan used to work, were tried for sedition. A verdict is scheduled for November.
Pro-Beijing media outlets have attacked the association and Chan, calling the professional group an anti-China political tool.
Hong Kong, once seen as a bastion of media freedom in Asia, ranked 140th out of 180 countries and territories in Reporters Without Borders’ latest World Press Freedom Index.
The organiastion said the city saw an “unprecedented setback” in 2020, when the security law was imposed.
Beijing and Hong Kong authorities said the law helped bring stability back to the city following the anti-government protests in 2019.