A police officer is seen in Hong Kong on March 1, 2021. An unidentified attacker recently beat Epoch Times journalist Sarah Liang with a bat. (Reuters/Tyrone Siu)

Unidentified attacker beats Epoch Times journalist with bat in Hong Kong

Taipei, May 11, 2021 — The Hong Kong police force must undertake a swift and thorough investigation into the attack on reporter Sarah Liang and hold those responsible to account, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

At about 11 a.m. today, an unidentified man attacked Liang, a reporter for The Epoch Times, outside of her apartment complex in the city’s Ho Man Tin area, according news reports and a report by her employer.

According to those reports, the assailant ran out of a black vehicle and repeatedly beat Liang’s legs with a bat for about a minute before fleeing in the same car. Liang called the police and was brought at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where she was treated for bruises from the attack, those reports said.

“Hong Kong police cannot allow the brazen and lawless attack on Epoch Times journalist Sarah Liang to go unresolved,” said CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, Steven Butler, in Washington, D.C. “Authorities must waste no time bringing the perpetrators to justice, and must ensure safety for all journalists working in Hong Kong.”

The Epoch Times is a U.S.-based media company affiliated with the spiritual group Falun Gong, and reports critically on the Chinese government, according to its website and CPJ’s review of its reporting. CPJ emailed The Epoch Times for comment but did not immediately receive any reply. According to those news reports, Liang is also the head of the Hong Kong Association of Falun Dafa, a group affiliated with the Falun Gong.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association released a statement condemning the attack and urging the police to launch a serious investigation.

The Hong Kong Police Force did not immediately respond to CPJ’s emailed request for comment. Liang, a U.S. citizen, said she planned to report the attack to the U.S. consulate, those news reports said.

Last month, four masked men broke into The Epoch Times’ printing facility in the Tsuen Wan district of Hong Kong and damaged the office’s computers and printing machines, as CPJ documented at the time.

Previously, in 2019, four masked men stormed into the newspaper’s printshop in Mong Kok and set the company’s printing machines on fire, as CPJ documented.

Journalists in Hong Kong have faced increasing repression and harassment since the passage of the national security law on July 1, 2020, as CPJ has documented.