Hong Kong woman gets suspended jail sentence for doxxing police officer during protests last year

Brian Wong
·4-min read

A part-time saleswoman has been given a suspended jail sentence for doxxing a policeman who opened fire on a protester during an anti-government demonstration in Hong Kong last year.

The High Court on Tuesday jailed Yiu Ka-yu for three weeks, but suspended the term for a year after finding “strong mitigating factors” in her case, including the fact that the 23-year-old was also a victim of doxxing.

Mr Justice Russell Coleman said in his ruling: “I fully recognise that the deeply ugly behaviour of doxxing has not been limited to doxxing police officers, or doxxing activities by only one ‘side’ of the recent social unrest against the other ‘side’.”

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“Any doxxing activity by any person or group against any other person or group is equally unacceptable, and equally seriously endangers society as a whole,” he added.

It was the fourth sentence for contempt of court since the same court granted an injunction sought by the justice department on October 25 last year, which outlawed the malicious publication of police officers’ personal details at the height of the civil unrest in 2019. The order is still in place.

A police officer attempts to subdue a protester at a demonstration in Sai Wan Ho on November 11, 2019. Photo: Nora Tam
A police officer attempts to subdue a protester at a demonstration in Sai Wan Ho on November 11, 2019. Photo: Nora Tam

The court passed the first immediate jail sentence for the offence of doxxing on Monday, sentencing 28-year-old merchant Chan Kin-chung to three weeks behind bars for publishing personal information about a police constable who shot a live round at a protester during a demonstration in Sai Wan Ho on November 11, 2019.

Yiu was accused of doxxing the same officer less than four hours after he opened fire, publishing in a public chat group his residential address and the mobile phone number of his wife on messaging app Telegram, which is popular among protesters.

Hong Kong protests: two years’ jail for first person found guilty of doxxing police

The information was contained in an ironic post which purportedly warned readers not to distribute the information further and “have some mercy” for the “righteous uncle policeman” and his family.

But Yiu admitted wrongdoing when police arrested her two weeks later, as she acknowledged the purported warning and request meant the very opposite of what she had intended.

She said she was upset and emotional about the shooting incident, and shared the post when she was “blinded by hatred”.

Barrister Martin Ho Cheuk-hang, on behalf of the Department of Justice, asked the court to pass a jail sentence measured in months, reiterating that doxxing victims suffered severe and long-lasting impacts.

But defence lawyer Richard Yip Hoi-long urged the court to be lenient towards the defendant, who came from a broken family and lived a tough life with her mother.

Yip said his client had been working as a full-time waitress since completing Form Three to lighten the financial burden on her single mother, who worked as a cleaner and had to take up part-time jobs to make ends meet.

The lawyer said Yiu had now returned to her studies to prepare for the university entrance exams and enter a nursing school, adding she was unlikely to reoffend, especially after being doxxed.

Coleman accepted that mitigation, and believed a suspended custodial sentence was enough to reflect the gravity in the present case.

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“I hope the defendant will now gain strength from the assistance which she is seeking and obtaining from various quarters, and that she will combine it with her own stated determination to become a responsible contributor to society.” he said. “Her ambition to be a nurse is laudable, and I hope she achieves it.”

Yiu’s purported personal data, including her picture, date of birth and mobile phone number, were posted to doxxing site Hkleaks, which targets protesters, activists and journalists in retaliation for similar attacks against police, with a line labelling her as a “radical rioter”. The accuracy of the information on the site could not be verified.

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