Taipei, November 22, 2019 — The Hong Kong Police Force should conduct a fast and thorough investigation into the arson attack on the Epoch Times newspaper’s printing company, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
In the early morning of November 19, four masked men stormed into Epoch Press, a print shop in Mong Kok that produces the daily Epoch Times in Hong Kong, threatened staffers with batons, and doused the company’s printing machines with gasoline and set them ablaze, according to a Facebook post by the newspaper and news reports.
No one was hurt in the incident, but the fire damaged a printing press and rolls of papers, according to those reports. The Epoch Times is a U.S.-based media company that reports critically on the Chinese government, according to its website.
“Hong Kong is suffering from an alarming increase of violence against journalists and media operations, threatening the city’s tradition of press freedom,” said CPJ’s Asia Program Coordinator Steven Butler, in New York. “Police should take immediate steps to apprehend those responsible for torching the Epoch Times printing plant, and ensure they are held to account.”
The Tsuen Wan Police Station has opened an investigation into the attack, according to those news reports. CPJ emailed the Hong Kong Police Force for comment but did not immediately receive a reply.
The arson attack occurred amid protests that began in June against an extradition bill that would have allowed Hong Kong residents to face trial in mainland Chinese courts, as CPJ reported at the time. The Epoch Times has extensively covered the protests.
The shop’s security cameras recorded the four assailants dressed in black outfits resembling those worn by pro-democracy protesters, as seen in the outlet’s Facebook post. In a statement, the Epoch Times wrote that the men may have dressed as protesters to deliberately mislead the investigation.
The Hong Kong Journalists Association condemned the attack in a statement and urged the police to take the case seriously.