Deportation strikes another blow for press freedom in Hong Kong 

Press statement: 12 April 2024

Hong Kong Media Overseas (HKMO) expresses grave concern over the deportation on 10 April of Aleksandra Bielakowska, the Asia-Pacific Advocacy Officer for Reporters Without Borders (RSF), after arriving in Hong Kong to observe the trial of Jimmy Lai, the founder of Next Media and Apple Daily. 

Having cracked down on local media and threatened severe punishment for independent journalism the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) is now showing its determination to prevent independent monitoring of the Jimmy Lai show trial. 

Ms Bielakowska was detained upon arrival at Hong Kong International Airport and summarily expelled. Throughout the six-hour detention, Ms Bielakowska was extensively questioned and her belongings were confiscated and inspected. 

Despite repeated inquiries, Ms Bielakowska received no explanation for her detention. Prior to deportation, she was asked to sign a document, again without explanation. The officers refused to provide her with a copy, citing it as an “internal document”. 

RSF is not the first NGO representative to be barred from entering Hong Kong. UK-based NGO, Hong Kong Watch, experienced a similar denial of entry on 11th October 2017. 

The detention and deportation of RSF’s advocacy officer delivers another blow to press freedom and human rights in Hong Kong. 

HKMO demands that the Hong Kong SAR provide an explanation for its drastic action to prevent the world knowing about its crackdown on press freedom and calls on the administration to cease the harassment of overseas journalists and NGO organisations.