The Hong Kong version of The Epoch Times has been temporarily suspended for repair of damaged equipment following the fifth attack on April 12, since its establishment in 2006.
Early on Monday, four masked intruders broke into the warehouse and swung two hammers and a knife hidden in a plastic bag.
The four men broke the printing press equipment and threw construction debris at the equipment before escaping in a white van. Among the damaged items were the central control panels of multiple computers and printing presses. The man warned a print shop employee “go away” and “don’t let me do anything.” They stole the computer when they left.
Police officers arrived shortly thereafter, informing employees of The Epoch Times that the department’s criminal unit was under investigation.
The Hong Kong version of The Epoch Times condemned the attack as a crime against Hong Kong’s freedom and rule of law.
“These thugs are targeting not only the Epoch Times Hong Kong, but also Hong Kong’s independent media,” the agency said in a statement. “It is a malicious attack on basic social norms such as freedom of the press.”
PEN America, a New York-based non-profit organization that defends press freedom, said the armed assault represents “a alarming expansion of the threat to press freedom.”
“These lawless attacks in the midst of arrests, prosecutions and convictions of Chinese government critics appear to fit into a paradigm of full-scale efforts to curb complaints,” the group said. Said in a statement to the Epoch Times.
Hong Kong’s printing mills have been hit by numerous attacks over the last 15 years, with few previous police investigations.
In November 2019, a masked perpetrator, including two available expandable batons, carried a bucket of flammable liquid to a printing warehouse. They started pouring the liquid into the printing press and rolls, I lit it.
The damage caused by the arson was estimated to be over $ 40,000.
In May 2013, three men in black attempted to break into the factory with no success. Part of the metal door was bent by effort.
In October 2012, a destroyer damaged a print shop door lock with an electric drill.
And in February 2006, two weeks after the printing site was founded, four men broke into the building and damaged newly purchased equipment. The cost exceeded HK $ 1 million ($ 128,660).
“The perpetrators have not been identified, but patterns of attacks on independent media have faced indifference from law enforcement agencies in the past and may be tolerated or ordered by authorities. It suggests, “says PEN America. “If Hong Kong wants to maintain its reputation as an outpost of openness and the rule of law, it must bring these criminals to justice and respect the role and rights of the free press.”
The Hong Kong Journalists Association and the Hong Kong Web Media Association also condemned the attack and urged the government to investigate.
Hong Kong businessman Herbert Chow said the attack on Monday needed further support for the Hong Kong version of The Epoch Times.
“We have to show these media devoted to telling the truth that Hong Kongers are 100 percent standing behind you,” he said.