A union leader yesterday accused the government of declaring war on the press after a former Apple Daily photographer appeared in court charged with assaulting a security guard while taking a picture of a senior official.
About 50 journalists clad in black packed Eastern Court, where Gary Sing Kai-chung, 41, entered no plea.
He had been trying to photograph former education minister Michael Suen Ming-yeung as he returned to work in January after being treated in hospital for legionnaires' disease. A scuffle broke out when security guards blocked him from taking photos. One guard was pushed over.
Jonathan Man Ho-ching, representing Sing, said his client was arrested and charged on Tuesday, and demanded an adjournment. Acting Principal Magistrate Bina Chainrai adjourned the case until October 11 to allow time for the defence to study documents and give legal advice.
Outside court, members of the Journalists Association, the Press Photographers Association and the Next Union that represents Apple Daily staff, accused the government of suppressing press freedom.
Next Union's acting chairman, Li Ka-chung, said: "The government has declared war on the press."
He said press arrangements had worsened since the government moved to its new headquarters in Admiralty. He urged the government to apologise.
Ken Lui Tsz-lok, of the Journalists Association, said: "Press arrangements in Hong Kong are worse than in mainland China."
Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok rejected suggestions Sing's arrest was a case of the government intimidating the media.