Hong Kong Detains and Expels Journalism Advocate, Group Says

A representative of Reporters Without Borders was denied entry to Hong Kong on Wednesday while attempting to enter the city on a fact-finding mission about shrinking press freedoms there, the organization said.

Aleksandra Bielakowska, a Taipei-based advocacy officer for the group, said she had been detained for six hours at Hong Kong International Airport, where she was questioned and her belongings searched several times. She was later expelled without explanation.

Reporters Without Borders, which is based in Paris and advocates on behalf of journalists around the world, said it was the first time one of its representatives had been denied entry or held in Hong Kong.

“We are appalled by this unacceptable treatment of our colleague, who was simply trying to do her job,” Rebecca Vincent, Reporters Without Borders’ director of campaigns, said in a statement.

The Hong Kong government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ms. Bielakowska, a Polish national, was traveling with a colleague, the organization’s Asia-Pacific bureau director, Cédric Alviani. Mr. Alviani was allowed to enter Hong Kong without incident but returned to Taiwan later on Monday.

The two had planned to meet with journalists and monitor the national security trial of the media executive, Jimmy Lai, an ardent government critic and the owner of the now-shuttered Apple Daily newspaper. Ms. Bielakowska visited Hong Kong last December to attend the opening of Mr. Lai’s trial.

The episode comes less than a month after Hong Kong introduced new national security laws, known collectively as Article 23 legislation, that in part targets foreign interference and heightens the risks for journalists who report critically on the government.

The local legislation was enacted four years after China imposed its own national security law on Hong Kong following widespread pro-democracy protests, a measure that has stifled dissent and led to the closure of several independent media organizations.

Senior editors from one of those outlets, Stand News, are on trial for publishing what the authorities have called seditious material. A verdict is expect later this month.

And last month, the U.S.-government funded news service Radio Free Asia announced that it had closed its office in Hong Kong because of concerns about the new Article 23 laws.

Tiffany May contributed reporting.

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