Hong Kong journalists threatened for ‘bias’ reporting on China

HKFP staff in the offices. Credit: HKFP

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) denounces a series of threats made against Hong Kong-based journalists. The IFJ calls for an immediate investigation into the threats, and the government to guarantee the safety of the journalists.Last week, Tom Grundy, the editor-in-chief of the Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP), an online English media outlet, spoke with the IFJ and HKJA about a series of letters that he and some of his staff had received over the past month. Each letter arrived on Tuesday, some sent to the HKFP office, while one was sent to the Hong Kong of guest editor Tim Hamlett, and the latest was sent to the United Kingdom home of Tom Grundy’s family.The letters included a list of 50 ‘foreigners’ that ‘have been deemed guilty of spreading hatred and dividing Hong Kong, China society’. The ‘foreigners’ include Tom, Tim Hamlett, as well as other journalists, scholars and media workers. Under the list of names, the letters says that ‘the punishment shall be mandated as of January 2018. Expulsion from Chinese Territory. A list will be sent to immigration staff’.In addition to threats made to Tom and Tim, a letter was also sent to all local staff, telling them ‘not to follow the brainwashing through the distortions by foreigners of your mind’… ‘You do not have to continue writing negative and biased stories about Hong Kong and China. You have Chinese blood running through your veins and heart’.In the letter sent to Tom’s family’s house in the UK, it said ‘I and many people would really regret if something happened to Tom in the next few years’.The HKJA has been providing support and legal assistance to HKFP, who have already filed a police complaint. On Sunday, October 1, the Yau Tsim Mong Criminal Investigation Department opened an investigation.Tom Grundy said: "We have no tolerance for threats against our staff, or freedom to report. HKFP is engaging the police, lawyers, politicians and media watchdogs in the case. We will not allow this to affect our work." The IFJ Asia Pacific Office said: “We stand in solidarity with our colleagues in Hong Kong and denounce the threats made to them as they do their job. Threats such as these create a culture of fear which ultimately works to silence critical voices such as HKFP. HKFP is strong advocate for press freedom in Hong Kong and China and its staff should not be threatened because of this.”We call on Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, to send out a clear message to society that press freedom in enshrined in Basic Law, which should be upheld for good governance.We call on Lo Wai-Chung, the Commissioner of the Hong Kong Police to immediately open an investigation into the threats, and take all the necessary precautions to guarantee the safety of HKFP staff and the Hong Kong media community.We urge our colleagues in Hong Kong to stay vigilant, and to exercise their duties safely.

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