Leave to appeal granted over Citizens' Radio
Five prominent pan-democrats were granted leave to appeal by Hong Kong's highest court against HK$1,000 fines imposed on them for speaking on pirate station Citizens' Radio.
They are challenging the constitutionality of the 75-year-old Telecommunications Ordinance which outlaws the unlicensed station.
Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma Tao-li granted leave for the appeal - in a five-minute Court of Final Appeal session - to the Democratic Party's Emily Lau Wai-hing and Lee Wing-tat; People Power's Wong Yuk-man and Albert Chan Wai-yip; and unionist Lee Cheuk-yan. Veteran politician Szeto Wah, who died in January, was originally also a defendant.
The case was sparked by a broadcast made by the six on a Sunday in April 2008 in Sai Yeung Choi Street South, in the heart of Mong Kok's main shopping area.
They were watched by about a dozen investigators from the telecoms watchdog Ofta, who took pictures and video of the event.
Broadcasting via transmission equipment set up on a Lion Rock hillside, providing coverage over most of Kowloon and northern Hong Kong Island, the six railed against the government's delay in reviewing the Telecommunications Ordinance and allowing other radio stations to operate. The one-hour programme on FM radio and the internet, drew a crowd of around 100.
Chief Magistrate Tong Man fined the lawmakers in 2009. Court of First Instance judge Madam Justice Maggie Poon Man-kay turned down their appeal in August this year.
Section 23 of the Telecommunications Ordinance forbids the transmission or receipt of a message via an unlicensed telecommunication means.
Martin Lee Chu-ming SC, founder of the Democratic Party, representing three of the five defendants, had previously argued that the ordinance limited freedom of expression. He also submitted that the wording of the section was meant to apply to communication by telegram, not radio.
The year Citizens' Radio started trial broadcasting in Hong Kong. The principle of the station is 'be open and bravely speak out'