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Reporters Without Borders urges Hong Kong to renew journalist's visa

PRESS FREEDOM. A demonstrator (C) holds a placard that reads 'freedom of the press, not allowed to be deprived' during a protest after Hong Kong immigration authorities declined a visa renewal for senior Financial Times journalist Victor Mallet, outside the immigration department building in Hong Kong on October 6, 2018. File photo by Philip Fong/AFP

PRESS FREEDOM. A demonstrator (C) holds a placard that reads 'freedom of the press, not allowed to be deprived' during a protest after Hong Kong immigration authorities declined a visa renewal for senior Financial Times journalist Victor Mallet, outside the immigration department building in Hong Kong on October 6, 2018.

File photo by Philip Fong/AFP

MANILA, Philippines – International media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Tuesday, October 9, urged Hong Kong to cancel its "extraordinary" decision denying British journalist Victor Mallet a working visa.

Mallet, Financial Times' Asia news editor, hosted in August a talk by Andy Chan, an activist advocating the city's independence from China. Almost two months after the talk, an application to renew Mallet's work visa has been refused. On October 7, he was given 7 days to leave Hong Kong.

Hong Kong, and even its leader Carrie Lam, have refused to say why Mallet was denied a visa renewal.

RSF said in its statement that more than 11,000 people have already signed a petition urging Hong Kong authorities to rescind what they called a "highly unusual measure."

The petition was launched by RSF, the Foreign Correspondents' Club in Hong Kong (FCCHK), Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA), and other groups. Mallet is vice president of the FCCHK.

The group also noted that press freedom is usually respected in Hong Kong.

"Victor Mallet's expulsion, if confirmed, would represent a further step backwards for press freedom, which has already been declining in recent years in Hong Kong," said Cédric Alviani, the head of RSF's East Asia bureau.

He added, "This administrative measure shows that the Chinese government's existing policy of intimidating foreign journalists within China is now being extended to Hong Kong."

RSF in its statement cited an annual report published by the HKJA in July saying that press freedom in Hong Kong had continued fall during the past year.

Hong Kong ranked 70th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index. The country originally placed 18th when the ranking was launched in 2002. – Rappler.com