On April 12, four men forcefully entered the printing facility in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong, which prints daily newspaper The Epoch Times. CCTV footage shows the men threatening staff members who tried to stop them - an account corroborated by newspaper staff. The newspaper said the attack lasted only a few minutes, but that the suspects also sprayed concrete rubble onto a printing machine to damage it.
Hong Kong police told the IFJ on April 13 that suspects smashed five computer screens and one printing machine with sledgehammers, before decamping with a private vehicle. The case was identified by Hong Kong police as “criminal damage”, but it is yet to make any arrests.
In an email to the IFJ on April 15, The Epoch Times said it was still calculating the loss. A spokesperson for the newspaper, Cheryl Ng, described the attack as “most serious”, saying the company was forced to halt printing over several days. She condemned the act of brutality committed by “individuals hired by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)” and said the newspaper would “continue reporting the truth for citizens.”
The newspaper said the incident was a malicious assault on Hong Kong’s freedom of the press. The paper’s printing facility has been attacked five times over the past 15 years; however, authorities have yet to secure a conviction for these attacks, according to the newspaper. Founded in 2000 by members of the Falun Gong religious group, the newspaper is known to be ardently critical of the CCP.
On April 13, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong (FCC), said it “strongly condemns the attack on TheEpoch Times” and “insists that media should be able operate freely without fear of violence in Hong Kong regardless of their political stance.”
The HKJA said: “HKJA condemns any acts of violence or sabotage against the media. Everyone must stop resorting to violence, and the police must expeditiously deal with such violence.”
The IFJ said: “Attacking the premises of media organisations is unacceptable in Hong Kong where freedom of the press and expression is guaranteed by the city’s constitution, the Basic Law. Police must take urgent action on this attack to bring perpetrators to justice.”