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Hong Kong reporter protests police harassment of media covering civil unrest

A Hong Kong reporter has disrupted a police news conference to protest against what she called escalating violence by officers against journalists covering the city’s pro-democracy demonstrations.

The reporter (pictured) interrupted the briefing by reading a statement alleging police mistreatment and obstruction of reporters covering the chaotic protests.

To emphasise her point, she used a high-powered strobing flashlight similar to ones that police have used on photographers and video journalists.

The five officers sitting on the stage quickly left, leaving the reporter to deliver her remarks before staff intervened.

“They’re stopping us from carrying out our duties to report what happened in the field,” said the reporter. “They tear off our gas masks and even deploy pepper spray on us every time.”

She added that press freedom in Hong Kong is under threat.

She did not give her name but other reporters on social media identified her as Amy Ip, a freelance journalist.

Sophie McNeill of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation tweeted that Ip helped produce a recent report on Hong Kong for the network.

Tensions are rising further between police and media after violent demonstrations on Sunday night in which police used aggressive tactics against media and detained a photojournalist overnight.

The Hong Kong Free Press website said May James, one of its freelance contributors, was arrested by police who asked her to remove her safety mask as they enforced a recent law banning people from wearing face coverings at public assemblies.

James was held despite authorities’ assurances that journalists are exempt from the ban. Reporters covering Hong Kong protests usually use respirator masks to protect against the frequent use of police tear gas.

Police said at the briefing, which eventually resumed, that James did not comply immediately when asked for press credentials.

Hong Kong’s protest movement erupted in early June, sparked by a China extradition bill that stoked long-standing fears that the country’s Communist rulers are tightening their grip on the semi-autonomous city.

The movement has mushroomed into an uprising with broader demands for political reform and police accountability.

Police said they arrested 206 people over the past week for offences including unlawful assembly, criminal damage and arson.

Picture: PA Wire/AP Photo/Kelvin Chan

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