A reporter at the pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily was punched and kicked by assailants in Sau Mau Ping on Tuesday night.
According to the tabloid, the reporter left the office in Tseung Kwan O at around 7pm to have dinner with her sister. As they sat down at a restaurant, they were attacked by four men wearing black clothing, yellow helmets and masks.
“Tell your boss Fat [Jimmy] Lai to pay back his dues!” the men reportedly told the pair before they ran away.
Tycoon Jimmy Lai is the founder of the newspaper, and has been a target of state media during the summer’s anti-extradition law protests.
The assault lasted under a minute. The two women sustained injuries on several parts of their bodies.
Apple Daily said the reporter’s byline featured on reports about the ongoing protests and they suspected that she had been followed. It added that said she had received several suspicious phone calls since last Friday.
The publisher of Apple Daily, Cheung Kim-hung, condemned the assault and urged the police to investigate thoroughly.
“Apple Daily opposes authoritarianism and will not be scared off by violence. We will stand firm on our positions to defend press freedom and the public’s right to know, to speak out for Hong Kong people,” he said.
The Hong Kong Journalists Association also strongly condemned the assault.
“The HKJA is concerned that the incident is an attack on Hong Kong’s press freedom, and freedom of speech, in order to silence reporters. We are extremely angered by the incident,” it said. “The HKJA urges the police to seriously follow up on the incident, so that Hong Kong’s reputation as one of the safest cities in the world would not be tarnished.”
It is the second such attack in the space of one day. Earlier on Tuesday morning, pro-democracy lawmaker Roy Kwong was hospitalised following an attack by assailants in Tin Shui Wai.
Earlier this month, a Chinese-language website registered in Russia leaked the personal data of dozens of Apple Daily staff. Meanwhile, pro-Beijing protests outside Lai’s residence have escalated, with a firebomb being thrown at his gates.
Since June, large-scale peaceful protests against a bill that would have enabled extraditions to China have evolved into sometimes violent displays of dissent over Beijing’s encroachment, democracy and alleged police brutality.
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