Taipei, September 25, 2019 — Hong Kong authorities should conduct a swift and credible investigation into the recent assault of an Apple Daily reporter and bring those responsible to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Yesterday, four men dressed in black and wearing yellow helmets rushed into a restaurant in Hong Kong’s Kwun Tong district where a reporter from the pro-democracy Chinese-language newspaper Apple Daily was dining with her family, and kicked and punched the reporter and then fled the scene, according to a report by Apple Daily and other news reports.
During the assault, the attackers mentioned Jimmy Lai, founder and chair of Next Digital, which owns Apple Daily, according a report by the newspaper.
The journalist was taken to a hospital with injuries to her head and right ear, according to the newspaper, which published photos of her injuries but did not release the reporter’s name.
“If the rule of law means anything in Hong Kong, police must take swift action to apprehend not just the men who carried out this assault on an Apple Daily reporter, but anyone who planned the attack as well,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in Washington, D.C. “Attacks against journalists have gone unpunished for far too long in Hong Kong.”
Apple Daily editor-in-chief Ryan Law Wai-kwong said in a statement on the newspaper’s website that the reporter was targeted for her reports and live-streams of the protests that have taken place in Hong Kong since June. The protests were originally sparked by an extradition bill that would have allowed Hong Kong residents to face trial in mainland Chinese courts, as CPJ reported at the time.
The journalist’s personal information had recently been published by an anonymous website opposed to the protesters, according to a statement published on Facebook by the Hong Kong Journalists Association.
Hong Kong authorities have asked the website to remove identifying information of about 20 Apple Daily journalists, as well as more than 70 activists, student leaders, and protesters, but the website, which is registered to a Russian domain, has kept the information online, according to the South China Morning Post.
Jimmy Lai’s home was firebombed earlier this month, but no one was hurt in the incident, according to news reports.
The Hong Kong Police Force told CPJ in an email that the case is under investigation and no arrests have been made.