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Opinion: The danger facing journalists in Hong Kong is a threat to press freedom everywhere

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Two deaths. Hundreds injured. More than 10,000 rounds of tear gas and half as many rubber bullets fired. More than six months of unrest. People and businesses are leaving Hong Kong as anti-government protests disrupt a city long praised for efficiency, ease of doing business and its retention of basic freedoms — including press freedom — that are nonexistent across the border in mainland China.

Amplifying this city’s deep-seated tensions is a surge of conspiracy theories and disinformation, which fuel the escalating violence. Public trust in the semiautonomous Chinese territory’s leaders, police and public institutions has been ruptured possibly beyond repair — as shown by the record-high turnout of voters in recent local elections supporting pro-democracy candidates. The vote was widely considered a referendum on the government’s handling of the protests.

Journalists have often worked under enormous pressure and in difficult conditions to cover these rapidly unfolding events. Yet rather than being respected as impartial witnesses attempting to bring light to facts, reporters have found themselves under attack while covering the protests and the police response.

The media have become part of the story as Hong Kong’s once-vaunted press freedom has been severely impaired.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong has sought to keep track of multiple incidents in recent months in which reporters were........

© Los Angeles Times