Magazine offices attacked

New York, October 7, 2002—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns yesterday’s attack on the Taipei offices of Next (Yi Zhoukan) magazine.

At about 1 p.m. on October 6, at least 10 men stormed the Next offices in Taipei, destroying office equipment and carrying away two computers, according to Taiwanese and international news reports. Three security guards were injured when they tried to stop the assailants.

“The Taiwanese government must do everything in its power to ensure that those responsible for this crime are brought to justice,” said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper. “If such attacks on the media are allowed to continue, press freedom in Taiwan will be under threat.”

Next, a popular tabloid-style weekly magazine, is owned by Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai.

Pei Wei, the magazine’s editor-in-chief, has linked the attack to Next‘s reporting on a criminal group called the Sun. According to a report in today’s Apple Daily, a Hong Kong-based sister publication of Next, the assailants were wearing black t-shirts with Chinese characters meaning “the Sun Group” (Taiyang Jituan) written on the back.

Also today, media outlets in Taiwan received a faxed letter signed by a leader of the Sun, claiming responsibility for the attack. The letter stated that, “Next has dared to provoke the Sun and myself and should be warned that we vow to drive the magazine from Taiwan,” said a report in the China Times Evening News. Police have been unable to verify the source of the fax. No arrests have been made in the case.

Next, which routinely exposes scandals involving politicians, celebrities, and criminals, has previously been targeted for attack. In August 2001, a group of men wielding baseball bats vandalized the magazine’s offices. And in March 2002, government agents raided the Next offices after the magazine published a report on how Taiwanese officials allegedly used secret government funds to buy influence and favor abroad under the administration of former president Lee Teng-hui.