The head of Hong Kong’s journalists’ association will be allowed to travel to the UK for an Oxford fellowship after a court granted him bail and declined to place restrictions on his movement over a charge of obstructing police officers.
Ronson Chan was arrested on 7 September while he was covering a residence meeting at a Hong Kong housing estate. Police allege he refused to provide ID and behaved in an “uncooperative” way despite multiple warnings, and he was charged this week. Chan has claimed innocence, saying he was within his rights to ask police for identification before he produced his.
At a court appearance on Thursday, the judge Peter Law, granted Chan bail ahead of the next court hearing in April 2023. He was not restrained from traveling overseas, an outcome that appeared to surprise Chan.
Wearing a black T-shirt emblazoned with “press freedom”, Chan said he didn’t have the opportunity to identify himself as a reporter before the arrest so “it’s hard to entirely link it to press freedom”.
“But I think it’s an ironic reflection of the press situation that while some in the sector were at a national day reception, the journalist association chairman was in court.”
Chan is due to attend a six-month long journalism fellowship at the Reuters Institute at Oxford University, beginning next week. In a statement, the Institute’s director, Rasmus Nielsen, said they were looking forward to welcoming Chan in October.
“He is a distinguished and experienced journalist with much to share, and everyone here is looking forward to hosting him.”
As part of his bail conditions, Chan will be required to inform police of his address and contact details once in the UK.
An ongoing crackdown on dissent and free expression in Hong Kong has brought thousands before the court, including journalists, activists and politicians.
For those charged under the national security law, the presumption of bail was reversed, leaving most defendants in jail on remand, some waiting for more than a year to see trial.