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Newspaper industry boss appeals to Hong Kong premier CY Leung to protect media freedom

CY Leung

Hong Kong premier CY Leung addresses the newspaper industry

In a tense opening speech at an industry event in Hong Kong this morning, the head of newspaper body WAN-IFRA directly appealed to the premier of Hong Kong to protect press freedom in the territory.

Standing a few metres away from Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying, WAN-IFRA president Tomas Brunegard highlighted the stabbing of sacked Ming Pau editor Kevin Lau in February as evidence that media freedom was under threat in the city.

“We urge the authorities to pursue justice for Kevin Lau and send a clear message of support to journalists in Hong Kong,” he said. 

“This is one of a few high profile cases of attacks against journalists here. We call on Hong Kong’s CEO to take firm steps on freedom of expression and defend press freedom.”

Speaking after Brunegard, CY Leung first said that the assailants who attacked Kevin Lau had been brought to justice.

He then said that the Hong Kong government was committed to protecting journalists and freedom of expression.

“I have always been acutely aware of the importance of Article 27 [Hong Kong’s freedom of speech, of the press, and of publication are protected under Article 27 of the Hong Kong Basic Law],” Leung said.

“We are committed to the freedom of ideas and information. It’s a top priority for Hong Kong and our government, not just because it is right thing to do. Not just because it is a constitutional duty. But because media freedom is a cornerstone of our reputation as an international city, and for a free, open and functioning city. In short, it’s about our way of life,” he said.

His remarks come the day after a study for the Hong Kong Journalists Association painted a gloomy picture of press freedom in the territory. The study, which was conducted before the Lau assault, found that both journalists and the general public feel that media freedom in Hong Kong is under threat.

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