Appeal against conviction of ex-RTHK journalist postponed

A journalist appealed against conviction over the improper searches of an online car license plate database for making a documentary recording the 2019 protest. The High Court on Monday reserved judgment and adjourned the hearing for three months.

Choy Yuk-ling, the former producer of Radio Television Hong Kong, was convicted last year of making false declarations under the Road Traffic Ordinance while searching vehicle registration details for an episode of the program covering the Yuen Long attack in July 2019.

Choy was sentenced to a fine of HK$6,000 in April 2021. It is the first time a journalist was convicted for seeking official information since 1984.

She applied for an appeal after the judgment and was on trial today in the High Court.

Speaking in the court, the defense of Choy claimed the Transportation Department never accused journalists of seeking information according to the previous documents.

"The department received around 50,000 applications in 2010 for seeking information of vehicles and over 22,000 has not shown the application purpose," the defense said, "nearly a quarter of them were requested by media outlets."

Judge Alex Lee Wan-tang said Choy might think it is legal to use the personal information obtained from the department's database for the documentary, as she interprets the reason for her search as "matters related to traffic and transportation".

He also noted that drawing the line in some circumstances could be difficult.

The High Court reserved judgment and adjourned the hearing for three months.