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A Polish woman deported from Hong Kong. He cooperates with the Reporters Without Borders organization

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A Polish woman cooperating with the Reporters Without Borders organization in Taipei was detained at the airport in Hong Kong and deported six hours later. – They searched me three times, my belongings twice, and me once. They moved me from room to room. At the very end, they gave me documents to sign and told me that I was to be deported immediately, says Aleksandra Bielakowska.

Aleksandra Bielakowska was to join the director of the Asia-Pacific Bureau of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Cedric Alviani, to monitor, together with other journalists, the trial of media magnate Jimmy Lai, the founder of the independent Apple Daily newspaper, critical of the communist authorities in Beijing. He faces life in prison on charges of “threatening national security,” RSF reported in a statement issued on Wednesday.

In an interview with PAP, Bielakowska explained that immigration officers did not provide reasons for the detention, but “looked through the documents for a very long time and then asked basic questions about the purpose of arrival.”

– Then they searched me three times, twice my belongings, once me. They moved me from room to room. It lasted a total of six hours – reports Bielakowska, who deals with advocacy at the international organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in Taipei.

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– At the very end, they gave me documents to sign and told me that I was to be deported immediately. When I asked the reason three times, one of the officers said: “immigration” and they immediately sent me back to Taipei, said Bielakowska.

A Polish woman cooperating with the Reporters Without Borders organization deported from Hong KongShutterstock

Vincent: tragic erosion of press freedom and the rule of law

In a statement, RSF campaign director Rebecca Vincent said the move was “unprecedented” given that her colleague was “simply trying to do her job.”

“We have never experienced such egregious efforts by authorities to avoid scrutiny of judicial proceedings in any country, which further underscores the ludicrous nature of the case against Jimmy Lai and the tragic erosion of press freedom and the rule of law in Hong Kong,” Vincent said.

Bielakowska admits that she has not been prevented from working so far during her previous visits to Hong Kong. However, when she arrived in Hong Kong last December for the start of Lai's trial, in which she was one of the few people outside the circle of diplomats and family members, “it felt like we were being followed.”

“Wednesday's detention shows how much the Hong Kong authorities fear NGO workers and human rights defenders who are trying to report on the authoritarian climate that has prevailed in the territory that was once a bastion of press freedom,” RSF quoted Bielakowska as saying in a statement.

Regression of media freedom in Hong Kong

Bielakowska emphasizes that following this incident, the RSF must “prepare for possible cyberattacks and surveillance.”

“The apparent decline in media freedom has intensified since July 2020, when Beijing passed a national security law aimed at silencing independent opinions,” RSF writes on its website.

Following legal changes, independent editorial offices such as “Apple Daily”, Stand News and radio stations were closed, and dozens of journalists were arrested.

In 2002, the city was in 18th place in the press freedom ranking of the Reporters Without Borders organization, in 2023 – 140th. China is in 179th place.

Main photo source: Shutterstock



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