A judge will allow all media to attend the hearing of an unnamed Chinese
immigrant accused of disguising himself as an elderly man to board a
plane to Canada, despite his lawyers’ request to ban three Chinese
newspapers from court proceedings. A publication ban will prevent journalists from reporting any identifying details.
The lawyers requested the ban of Canadian Chinese-language newspapers Ming Pao Daily News and Sing Tao Daily, as well as US-based Chinese-language newspaper World Journal over concern that the publications are heavily influenced by China.
“This is an extremely unusual case,” McLeod told the judge. The Vancouver Sun reports that “McLeod said extremely serious and harmful leaks of confidential information about his client had already occurred, citing such examples as his photo, which has only his eyes blacked out, and details of his journey to Canada.” The three papers deny the allegations that China controls them.
McLeod gave the judge a Maclean’s article titled “A question of influence” to support his argument for banning the papers. The article suggests that Beijing has increased its effots to use Chinese-Canadian media to “promote its own propaganda.” Any information that a reporter gathers could be made available to “other persons”, he said.
Airline staff were alerted to the disguise when the man removed the mask during the flight, according to a confidential Canada Border Services Agency intelligence report that CNN obtained. Upon arrival in Vancouver, the man requested asylum.
Immigration and Refugee Board adjudicator Daphne Shaw-Dyck ruled that all media may attend the detention review hearings. The National Post reports that Shaw-Dyck “said there is no proof the media services in question are taking marching orders from Beijing, and said reports suggesting they are have not been substantiated, even though they may be ‘interesting and informative.'”
Shaw-Dyck also imposed a publication ban on publishing any identifying details about the man, his family or associates, including his name, birth date and residence. She ruled that there is a risk that revealing his identity could put both the claimant and his family back in China at risk of reprisals.