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A police officer is seen in Hong Kong on July 2, 2019. On July 1, unidentified assailants vandalized pro-democracy broadcaster Citizens' Radio. (AP/Vincent Yu)

Pro-democracy underground station Citizens' Radio vandalized in Hong Kong

July 2, 2019 12:30 PM ET

Taipei, July 2, 2019 -- Authorities in Hong Kong should swiftly investigate the vandalism of the Citizens' Radio office and hold those responsible to account, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Yesterday, at around 2:45 a.m., four men wearing masks forced their way into the offices of Citizens' Radio and smashed its door, windows, and broadcasting equipment, according to news reports and Tsang Kin Shing, the station's founder, who spoke to CPJ via phone.

The men broke broadcasting equipment that Tsang planned to use to cover yesterday's protests, he told CPJ. Citizens' Radio was still able to cover the protests, as seen in video it posted to Facebook.

Hong Kong has been roiled by protests since May, chiefly against a proposed amendment to its extradition law that would allow Hong Kong to send fugitive suspects to places where it lacked extradition agreements, including mainland China, according to news reports. In May, CPJ called on Hong Kong authorities to revise or drop the bill.

"Hong Kong authorities must take swift action to apprehend those responsible for vandalizing Citizens' Radio," said Steven Butler, CPJ's Asia program coordinator, in Washington, D.C. "Authorities need to demonstrate that the use of violence to halt news coverage has no place in Hong Kong."

Tsang told CPJ that he witnessed the men enter the station brandishing hammers and a baseball bat, vandalize the office, and leave, and said that the entire incident lasted about two minutes. He estimated the damage at between $20,000 to $30,000 Hong Kong dollars (US$2,560 to US$3,845), and told CPJ that he filed a report with the local police.

Citizens' Radio is a nonprofit broadcaster affiliated with the League of Social Democrats, a pro-democracy political party in Hong Kong, which broadcasts without a permit since its license application has been pending since 2005, according to news reports.

Tsang and other employees of the broadcaster have been prosecuted and fined for broadcasting illegally, and the station has been shut down by authorities multiple times since 2005, according to media reports.

The Hong Kong Police Force did not answer CPJ's phone call requesting comment.

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