IFJ condemns hacking attacks and intimidation on Hong Kong's media

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has condemned hacking attacks against Hong Kong media outlets computer systems and the series of harassing  phone calls received by journalists in some of Hong Kong’s major media. The IFJ said these attacks constituted an attempt to intimidate and silence journalists and should not be tolerated by a government that claims its endorses press freedom.

Since the beginning of the Occupy Movement in Hong Kong on September 28, Hong Kong media have been receiving a variety of harassments, including physical, verbal and, more recently, technological assaults. As the IFJ reported yesterday, Apple Daily a pro-democracy Chinese language newspaper has been attacked for three consecutive days. Cars were used to block the entrance to the office building, in order to stop the distribution of the newspaper. At the same time hundreds of protesters assembled outside the office building, verbally and physically harassing journalists. The demonstrators continued, even after the Hong Kong High Court issued an injunction order to stop the protests.

On October 13, Apple Daily reported it had been the victim of a cyber-attack, which ‘paralysed’ the whole computer system including a number of apps. At the same time, a number of staff including senior management received numerous harassing phone calls. Apple Daily reported that one staff was receiving a phone call every minute, totalling more than 250 for the day. The calls did not say anything when answered and were coming in from Egypt and Thailand.

Reports of similar phone calls were also received from Radio Television of Hong Kong, who had earlier published a negative news report on Hong Kong Chief Executive, Leung Chan-ying. In this case, the phones calls included complaints and verbal harassments. Cyber-attacks were also reported by Ming Pao Daily, with reports an email was sent impersonating a correspondent which had a virus. The email was sent to the Hong Kong legislative councillors  requesting an interview.

Five independent media associations in Hong Kong including IFJ affiliate, the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA), Next Media Union, RTHK union  the Ming Pao union and the Hong Kong New Photographers Association issued a joint statement condemning the continued attacks.

IFJ Asia-Pacific Office said: “There is no legitimate reason for Hong Kong Police to tolerate thes actions. We urge Hong Kong’s Commissioner of Police, Andy Tsang,  to uphold the Basic Law which enshrines Press freedom and call on him to immediately exercise his duty to protect people’s safety and property. These continued harassments against journalists and media workers must be stopped.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

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